Brother Ivo cannot be the only one to have listened to a sermon over Christmas which drew its principle starting image from the 1914 Christmas Truce.
The preacher invited us to consider the courage it took for the first soldier in each sector to put courage, trust and hope to the ultimate test, by climbing over the firestep and moving, with lifted arms towards the enemy lines.
This was not the first Christmas truce.
During the American Civil War the two sides also laid aside animosity for the day; the Union soldiers were cheered to receive a turkey dinner, which had been ordered by President Abraham Lincoln to offer some cheer in their cold and otherwise bleak circumstances. There was no such comfort on the other side: the Confederacy was a poorer economy, struggling to provision its soldiery to the most basic degree.
How tempting it must have been for the men of the South to disrupt their enemies bonhomie by a surprise attack, yet they did not do so. The message of hope and peace of Christmastide drew them to accepting their lot in simpler circumstances, despite hunger pangs and jealousy.
These historic events led Brother Ivo to contemplate our own divided lines within the Church.
At a macro level we are Orthodox, Catholic, Baptist etc. Within churches themselves, the evangelical, liberal and charismatic look on each other will entrenched distrust. They have recently struggled over the role of women in the Church, and prepare to reprise the performance by opening a second front over the position of gay marriage. It is very predictable, human and sad.
At Chistmas, Brother Ivo wrote of the “Soft Power of Christ”, reflecting that we are called upon to exercise it and especially noting that each of us has no excuse for not exercising it.
Accordingly, having no duties in his own Church this morning, he will be getting out of his comfort zone to worship with a congregation he does not know in a tradition he does not share. He will be fraternising.
Perhaps this year we all need to do this occasionally, and those who exercise formal ministry might have a special responsibility to shoo their congregations out of their usual pews and Churches, urging them to trust in Christ and to try “walking towards the enemy” to enact our own journey of reconciliation at Christmastide.