Remembering the 1914 Christmas Truce

On Dec. 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus from the war for the celebration of Christmas. Although the warring countries did not accept the invitation for a cease fire, the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial truce. 

On Christmas Eve, German and British troops which were fighting in WWI joined together in singing Christmas carols across the lines. When Christmas morning arrived, German soldiers came out from the trenches wishing the British troops a Merry Christmas! Although the British soldiers were concerned that it was a trick, their fears were allayed when they saw that the German soldiers were not carrying guns. They, too, came out from the trenches and began shaking hands.

In 2014, inspired by the 2005 film, "Joyeux Noel," Christopher Reynolds traveled to Ypres, Belgium, on his own peace pilgrimage. In his research, Christopher discovered that one place the truce was celebrated was along the road between Ypres and Messines, Belgium. His intention was to emulate the courage of all who risked their lives for peace in order to build on it in our times. He decided to walk and pray on this road between Ypres and Messines from Dec. 24 to the dawning of Christmas day. 

As he walked, Christopher reflected on the song "Silent Night" and saw how hope expressed in the song was like a prayer that had been answered. He realized the starting point for peace on Earth returns again each year with the announcement that all Creation is no man's land. Our entire planet belongs to all, not just human beings, all living beings.

Christmas is a time when our focus is on peace and goodwill among men. At this particular time, peace and goodwill are needed to move us from our current divisiveness and rhetoric to an understanding that we are all in this together. Peace is possible! Christopher Reynold's prayer is that we gather once again in the holy silence. Can we as one people sing our hopes together to bring forth the beautiful world we wish for future generations?

On Friday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. Christopher Reynolds will present "The 1914 Christmas Truce: An Evening of Remembrance" at Unity Spiritual Center Westlake located at 23855 Detroit Road. We will sing, pray, and let go of grief and anxiety.  We will celebrate the idea that light and peace are the reasons for the season. The event is open to the public. The suggested love offering is $10, although no one will be turned away for financial reasons. Find out more at or call 440-835-0400 for more information.

Joanne Rowden

Senior Minister as Unity Spiritual Center since November 2014.

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Volume 11, Issue 23, Posted 10:13 AM, 12.03.2019