I pray for Aleppo at night. I sing a song at night for Aleppo in my mind, an old one by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, written against the backdrop of war between the North and the South.
And in despair I bowed my head,
"There is no peace on earth, " I said,
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
of peace on earth, goodwill to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, goodwill to men."
And he sees me. In the shadows of all this violence and evil, here I am in my warm home, well-fed, wealthy compared to the greatest percentage of the world. It makes me feel so small, so insignificant to affect change when I think of those chubby legs, so like my own little guy's. I am prone to feel guilty for this life immediately surrounding me, and to feel that all the Christmas preparations are so trivial, the gifts so ridiculous, the food so lavish- all so wrong- when half a world away, the world is falling apart. I tend to think our celebration is a mockery of the very real crisis going on.
But I think it is no accident that this happens right now, this time of year. As Christians, and even those who do no claim to follow Christ, turn their hearts toward this idea of a baby being born a few thousand years ago, a baby who was God, and as we celebrate this miracle, it is not surprising that evil seems to overcome it and steal our joy in this:
That God is with us. He did leave his throne and come as a baby. He was born in poverty. He was born during the reign of a cruel government. His parents had to flee for their lives from a demonic king who wanted all little boys to die. He did live a very normal and hard life and he died the worst death imaginable. But came back to life, by his own power raising himself from the dead. And he returned to his Father in heaven, sending us his Spirit to be God With Us. Even today.
Christmas is creeping up on us so quickly, and I do still struggle with how frivolous some of this seems in light of Aleppo, but as I wrap the gifts and curl the ribbon, I think of how the hate and the wrong will not prevail in this house. We will celebrate the birth of our Savior and find him everywhere we go and in everything we do. We will not let hate make a mockery of the peace we have with God and his goodwill toward all of us. We will not let it keep us from loving those within our power to love.
We will continue to pray and give and seek to see that God is even in Aleppo.
We will remember, in the words of another beautiful carol, that "in all our trials, He was born to be our friend". (O Holy Night)
We wish you a Christmas that is refreshed by the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May you know His peace, experience his goodwill, and enjoy his sweet friendship.
Please pray for Aleppo, and if you feel led to help, there are many wonderful ministries helping the refugees. The one closest to the front lines seems to be The Preemptive Love Coalition. Above all, please pray.