While reading through Eusebius’ Church History, following the readthefathers.org plan, I read this from the introduction to Book 5, which tells of some of the martyrs in the Church in the mid-second century.
Other writers of history record the victories of war and trophies won from enemies, the skill of generals, and the manly bravery of soldiers, defiled with blood and with innumerable slaughters for the sake of children and country and other possessions. But our narrative of the government of God will record in ineffaceable letters the most peaceful wars waged in behalf of the peace of the soul, and will tell of men doing brave deeds for truth rather than country, and for piety rather than dearest friends. It will hand down to imperishable remembrance the discipline and the much-tried fortitude of the athletes of religion, the trophies won from demons, the victories over invisible enemies, and the crowns placed upon all their heads.
Others before us, and Christians in other places today, are fighting this other war, this peaceful war for the “peace of the soul,” their own and the those of the world.
Here is the Christmas letter of one (via Internetmonk), Pastor Saeed Abidini, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran for his faith:
These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.
The angels declared the birth of the Christ to the Shepherds:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests! (Luke 2:14)
The peace of Christmas comes at a price, the death of the Christ. And the many who have likewise suffered and even died in imitation of Jesus, have continued to wage the war of Christmas, for the Peace of Mankind. Let’s pray for those who suffer in this war, and let us be ever willing to join them.