It was Christmas 1914. World War I was taking place. German and British soldiers were in combat against one another near the region of Ypres, Belgium. But it is here where we find the story of “The Christmas Truce.”
There had been little fighting during the days and weeks leading up to Christmas. The first battles of the war had left so many dead that both sides had held back until replacements could come from home. Troops were therefore staying in their trenches…waiting.
On Christmas Eve, soldiers recall that there was little shelling or rifle fire from either side. And as darkness fell on Christmas Eve, the shooting stopped entirely. It was the first complete silence in months!
That evening, the British soldiers could see lights shining from the German side. It appeared that German soldiers had placed candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees lining their side. The Germans continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. Reports state that as the Germans concluded a carol, the British would applaud and respond by singing carols of their own.
After the caroling came shouts of Christmas greetings to one another. And soon thereafter, brave German and British soldiers left their trenches and traveled into the midst of “No Man’s Land” to greet one another. Here, it was agreed that there would be no more shooting before midnight Christmas Day.
Following the truce, hundreds of soldiers and officers of each side met on No Man’s Land” and shook hands with men they had been trying to kill just hours earlier. The British khaki mingled with the German green. Here they told stories of life back home and of their families. Some exchanged gifts – food, tea, coffee, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. Even newspapers exchanged hands. The truce also allowed for recently-fallen soldiers to be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Even joint burial services were held. As it grew late, more songs were traded around the bonfire, and the two sides parted ways with the promise to meet again on Christmas Day for a much talked about football match.
Though it was not an official truce, it is estimated that over 100,000 British and German troops were involved in these unofficial cessations of fighting along the Western Front. Here, British and German soldiers learned that they weren’t all “savage barbarians” as their newspapers had led them to believe. These were men with homes and families, hopes and fears, principles, and yes, love of country. The fighting would undoubtedly resume in the coming days. After all, these were all decent fellows, but ones who had orders to follow, and they could not evade that duty. But at least for a time, as little as it may have been, enemies befriended one another and peace in the midst of war was experienced.
One cannot help but imagine what the world would be like if such a spirit was shown as was during the Christmas of 1914. Of course, disputes will always occur. But what if leaders were to offer well wishes in place of warnings? Songs in place of slurs? Presents in place of reprisals?
As Christians, we do not have to just imagine a world with such peace, but know that one day we will actually experience it. This season, let us remember that Christ is the Prince of Peace. And though the peace we may experience in this world is temporary, we look to the second advent of Christ where He will establish true and everlasting peace on Earth for all eternity.
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
Full-Time Chaplaincy News
Over the last three months, four Church of God ministers have been selected to serve as new military chaplains. Chaplain Russell Sanders has taken the oath to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve. Chaplain Ryan Wood was selected this month to become a U.S. Army Active Duty chaplain. Chaplain Mickey Weikel will report in January as a U.S. Navy Active Duty chaplain. Chaplain Ethan Everts was selected to serve as a U.S. Navy Reserve Chaplain. God continues to bless our church with men and women ministers who have caught the vision of serving as pastors to military personnel. I believe there are many more Church of God ministers who will find fulfillment in living out their call to pastor by serving the men, women, civilians, and their families of the military; or accept the call to provide pastoral care to those in the many institutions, hospitals, and organizations who need chaplains.
Christmas is a time to celebrate families. I want to give special recognition to all our chaplains’ spouses and children. As it is in pastoral ministry, a chaplain’s spouse will often serve alongside their husband or wife in support of ministry. They don’t serve because they are required or expected to, but they serve out of a love for the Lord and a desire to be a blessing. Recently, my wife, Brenda, had the opportunity to connect with several of our chaplains’ spouses in retreats and women’s meetings. In Germany she was able to visit with Connie Pettitt, Val Durham, Christina Giannone, April Franklin, Maribel Kinjorski, Dawn Wester, and Chaplain Patti Nichols. At the Protestant Women of the Chapel conference in Dallas, she enjoyed the conference with Merial Smartt, Kendra Kuhlman, Blanca Baize, Teresa Bartels, and Shelly Serrano. While in San Antonio, Brenda enjoyed a fellowship meal with Sharon Howell, Summer Boyd, Roslyn Walden, Linda Melvin, and Chaplain Gloria Bun.
When chaplains send in monthly reports, they rarely include the ministry of their spouse. However, I know many chaplains’ spouses provide outstanding ministry as well. I want to thank each chaplain spouse who faithfully supports your husband or wife in ministry. In addition, I want to especially acknowledge those of you who diligently keep the home fire burning when your chaplain is away from home, even at Christmas, ministering to those under his or her pastoral care.
Endorser and Coordinator, Full-Time Chaplains
Community Service Chaplaincy News
Thank you for your many prayers while our team was away in Haiti. God was very good to us during our stay there. Our Chaplain’s team arrived to do CSC training for 70 Haitian pastors and chaplains; but upon our arrival, riots broke out across the nation due to political unrest. Sadly, a number of Haitians were killed and injured during this rioting. When it became obvious that the airport and other transportation would not be open, our team managed to cross into the Dominican Republic and depart from Santo Domingo. We give a special thanks to Missionary Jim Hudson, who assisted us in transport and driving to Santo Domingo. He faced a number of challenges upon his return. We are happy to be back to enjoy the holiday festivities with our families.
From the Field
Chaplain Jack Cochran, Sheriff’s Chaplain, Ft. Meade, Florida, reports that his agency lost two officers due to line of duty deaths this month. Jack has been busy with the families and the agency regarding these sad events. Please continue to keep Jack in your prayers. Also, Jack’s wife Carmen is recovering from a broken hand injury.
CS Chaplain Francis Jones, Six Mile, South Carolina, reports 8 saved and a number baptized in water during a recent Thanksgiving day prison service.
CS Chaplain Linda Gray, Oak Lawn, Illinois, was able to host a Thanksgiving day dinner for Kenyan and Liberian students at a local college. The gospel was shared and two of the students showed up in church the following Sunday.
Chaplain Marvin Smith, Besbit, North Carolina, sends a praise report to the Commission. He successfully passed his ordination test in November. Praise the Lord!
CS and Disaster Response Chaplain Fred Dettwiller, Nashville, continues to support the Chaplains Commission and minister at the Nashville International Airport.
CS Chaplain Daniel Duncan, West Columbia, South Carolina, reports 31 nursing home visits in the month of November. Wow, what a great ministry.
This month, I have received a very large number of reports from those needing prayer for financial assistance. Let us pray for each other with regard to this matter. The holidays can be especially difficult for those who have very limited budgets, and can also lend itself to even more financial difficulty.
I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will be deeply planted in your hearts and minds and that the wonderful experience of Christmas will fill your homes this year. Our families are gifts from God and truly we are blessed to experience the warmth of family reunion and fellowship. Merry Christmas to you all.
Chaplain Jake Popejoy
Coordinator, Community Service Chaplains and Training
Chaplains Commission Office Christmas Schedule
The Chaplains Commission offices will be closed for the Christmas holiday beginning Friday, December 17th at 3:00 pm, and re-open on on Monday, January 3rd at 8:00 am.
In case of an emergency, you may contact us at: 704-918-8301. Or, Chaplain Pace is available through email at email@example.com
The Weekly Update will resume on Friday, January 7th.
Blessings to you and your family during this holy Christmas season!