Today’s Devotional is offered by Dennis Herman
It was Christmas Eve decades ago and the Hermans were in Barranquilla, Colombia, with our two-year-old son. We had arrived a week previously for my missionary assignment as chaplain of the Baptist Hospital. While being on the Caribbean coast may sound delightful, it was quite oppressive with the humidity making it feel more like a muggy North Carolina evening in August! We were temporarily housed in a small apartment on the third floor with no air conditioning. One of our colleagues had thoughtfully hung a decorative woven tree on the wall (no live trees in that heat).
Outside, the Christmas Eve was filled with fireworks; rockets and cherry bombs exploded to shake us from any sense of a “silent night.” All was not calm, but it was bright with the cluster fireworks! Salsa bands blared out their danceable tunes till the wee hours of the morning. We were not happy that our two-year-old could not sleep in the noise of the night! To add to the strangeness of the night, drug Lords and terrorism lurked in every corner and crevice of the Colombia society.
It was not the Christmas Eve we really wanted. We missed the family in North Carolina. We wanted snow and mistletoe, not tropical heat and exploding rockets. We wanted some peace, not dancing in the streets. And we wanted a place of safety, not a place where the drug mafias were constantly warring, causing terror and insecurity in the hearts of the citizens.
In the midst of all the fear, chaos, and culture shock we were feeling, there came to mind that beautiful hymn whose words are accredited to St. Francis:
“…with God as our Father, brothers all are we
Let there be peace on earth; and let it begin with me.”
I wanted a peace-filled Christmas. Obviously, it would not come in the trappings of a woven tree hanging on the wall or the blare of a dance band or dancing in the streets. It would certainly not come in the message of fear from terrorists and mafia groups. If I wanted peace and goodwill, it would have to start within me and inform all whose lives my life touched. Maybe, even in some small way, that would make a difference.
Prayer: Let there be peace on earth, O God, and let it begin with me. In my heart, in my home, in my Church and community, in my world, in all that I am and all that I do, may I be Your instrument of peace, through Christ I pray. Amen.