Christmas Fellowship in a Foxhole
ILLUS: The title for my message this morning comes from a story told by Pastor Stuart Briscoe:
"Many years ago," he writes, "an old German shared a story with me. He told how he had fought with the German forces in the First World War. For the benefit of the thirty-something people, I'll remind you that in those days warfare was not high tech but hand-to-hand trench warfare. Soldiers lived, fought, and died in trenches full of mud and blood and vermin. In those trenches, dug in the fields of France, enemies could actually hear each other talking. They didn't need satellites to locate the enemy. The enemy was just over there.
This old gentleman told me how on one cold, moonlit Christmas Eve, he huddled in the bottom of the trench. Because of the annual Christmas truce, the fighting had stopped. Suddenly, from the British trenches a loud, sweet tenor voice began to sing "The Lord Is My Shepherd," and the sound floated up into the clear, moonlit air.
Then he said something surprising: from the German trenches, a rich baritone voice tuned in, singing in German, ""Der Herr Ist Mein Heiter auf Deutsche." The Lord Is My Shepherd." For a few moments, everybody in both trenches concentrated on the sound of these two invisible singers and the beautiful music and the harmony. The British soldier and the German soldier sang praise to the Lord who was their shepherd. The singing stopped, and the sound slowly died away.
"We huddled in the bottom of our trenches and tried to keep warm until Christmas Day dawned," he said. "Early on Christmas morning, some of the British soldiers climbed out of their trenches into the no man's land, carrying a football."
(You need to understand that whenever the British go anywhere, they always take two things with them: their teapots and their footballs.) The English soldiers started kicking around a football, in a game in no man's land, betwee ...
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