Pause for Christmas

Selah: a word found throughout the Psalms of antiquity

There’s an ageless word in ancient texts that gives us pause to wonder.

Selah.

That’s the word. It’s found throughout the Psalms of antiquity. It literally means to “pause, suspend the music, and think about what you just read or sung.” It was used most often in songs as a rhythmic breathing spot with meditation in mind.

Think.

That’s sort of what Christmas is supposed to be, a rhythmic pause in the melody of life on this planet, but it’s sort of gotten out of hand hasn’t it? It seems like Christmas has become anything but a pausing point – more like a mad, grab, push, fuss, shop-until-you-drop cacophony of chaos!

In a world that is anything but peaceful, Christmas should cause us to pause and wonder. To breathe.

To be thankful for what we have, especially in our nation, for good food, good friends and family to share it with. There’s much more but that’s a starting place.

Exactly 101 years ago on a crisp winter morning, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, crawled out of their trenches and spent Christmas chatting with their German enemies along the Western front. You probably know the story. It has always been seen as some kind of miracle, a rare pause of peace in a horrific war that eventually claimed over 15 million lives.

To this day historians still argue over specifics; no one really knows where or how it all began. Many diaries and letters home have been studied and collated, but at the end of the day, no one really knows. Reportedly about 100,000 men participated in those amazing few hours of peace on Christmas day, 1914.

Germans held up signs saying, “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, coats, gloves and hats. Each side was allowed by the other to collect their dead from the “no man’s land” between the trenches in order to bury them. There is even a legend that a friendly game of soccer broke out.

That is the “power” in the pause of Christmas calling forth humanity to a higher value of life and peace and even laughter.

According to the Bible, when the Christ child was born, angels announced “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill to all men.” We’ve all heard those words, and sung those words. They came bearing “good news of great joy for all people.”

Now those are words worth pausing over.

Really? Good news? We could use some good news nowadays.

Really? Peace? We sure could use some real peace.

Really? For all people? Even for people here in the South Cariboo?

Selah. Pause. Think.

Rick Barker is the pastor at Cariboo Christian Life Fellowship – church at 108 Mile Ranch.

 

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