I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
What unexpected words to use for the Christmas Eve message of the angels. What is wild and sweet about the birth of Christ — the coming of the savior? Plenty.
To start with there is the fact that the announcement was unexpected. Not that the whole Jewish world and some wise kings weren’t waiting. He is known as the long-expected Jesus. But no one was expecting Him on this night, and most certainly, not this way.
The humble birth of Jesus never ceases to amaze me. Like so much of what transpired during His birth, life, death and resurrection, there was no way any human mind would have scripted this. The humble life of Christ is all the proof any of us should ever need of His authenticity and His divine origin. The King of kings born in a stable manger? Not the way Hollywood would do it, and certainly not any Jewish leaders who were hoping for this. Jesus snuck in when no one was looking.
And yet the universe was itching for grandeur. Somebody had to know what was really going on here. Somebody had to be witnesses to the divine intervention into the human race. A few shepherds? Perfect. No one will believe them anyway.
Something had to break through the stillness. There had to be some formal announcement. Send in the angels. Send in the angelic choir! Send in a multitude of the heavenly host. Now that’s wild! Waste it on a handful of nameless shepherds. No matter, somebody has to know; preferably nobody important. Who knows what someone important might do with the information? The shepherds are just going to sit on it. They’ll tell enough people to get it written down in history. That’s all God wanted — that, and a little concert from the choir for the rest of the universe to see.
So when you think of it this way, “wild” is the perfect word. It was the wildest of nights.
“Do not be afraid,” announced the angel. “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).
And sweet? That’s a little easier. Sweet is the salvation He brought to all mankind. A cause of “great joy for all the people.” “Sing that sweet, sweet song of salvation,” sang Larry Norman, “and let your laughter fill the air.”
It’s sweet because it’s free. It’s sweet because it’s God’s grace given to us. It’s sweet because it’s the best thing that could ever happen to us.
It was a silent night. It was a holy night. It was a wild, sweet night. And wild and sweet, the words still repeat “of peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Christmas Bells,” later to become the beloved Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” it was the chiming bells of Christmas that drove away the darkness and despair of human conflict and brought the hope of Christ’s birth and ultimate redemption for all who believe.
The ministry of the Catch with boots on the ground in 143 different countries, is bringing hope to countless disenfranchised people through counseling, prayer, the daily Catch, a radio station and online church. We invite you to honor a friend, family member, school teacher, pastor, or co-worker with the knowledge that their bell is a symbol of Grace Turned Outward to someone in their own darkness and despair. Ring a bell of Christmas hope and honor someone special in doing it.
For $25, you can reach into someone’s darkness in the name of one special person. The person you honor will receive a beautiful 3-inch sleigh bell ornament. We will also honor them in special announcements throughout the day on Music that Matters radio, on our Facebook page and in the premier edition of The Catch Magazine launching the week before Christmas.
How to help put boots on the ground in honor of someone special: Click here to enter your $25 and look for the place where you can “Add special instructions to the seller.” That’s where you enter the name and address of the person you want to honor this Christmas. We’ll do the rest! And Thank You!
Thank you so much to all who responded to our most recent Catch campaign in support of our expansion plans. Together with other community members, we reached our goal. Congratulations!
On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are pleased to honor your commitment by providing you with a VISIBLE EVIDENCE T-Shirt. Many of you have not responded yet to our emaIl requesting your size, and the name and address you want us to send the T-Shirt.
You can do so by either replying to this email or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your response to our challenge speaks to the strength of our community and its ministry. We are full of gratitude to you.
Yours for this journey,
John & Marti Fischer