• Today's Daily Devotion
A Hymn Book in One Hand
On December 27, 1944, the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion launched a night raid on Noirefontaine signaling the first Allied offensive of the Battle of the Bulge. The moon ...

A Hymn Book in One Hand

On December 27, 1944, the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion launched a night raid on Noirefontaine signaling the first Allied offensive of the Battle of the Bulge. The moon was full and the night so cold that enemy land mines failed to detonate in the frozen ground. Charles Fairlamb was a radio operator with the battalion and found himself in the middle of a hard-fought battle lasting through the night.

The next morning the 551st assembled for a long-overdue Christmas service. Still close to the front lines and exhausted, they gathered in a wooded area with faces still painted black and weapons ready. Fairlamb described the scene:

It was cold and snowing, and nearly half the men had lost their voices because of bad weather. The trees, mostly pine, were beautifully covered with snow and decorated with tinsel which the Germans had been dropping to make our radar ineffective. It was the most impressive Christmas service I’ve ever attended. I don’t believe that anyone could be any closer to the real Christmas than we were that day. But it made you feel kind of funny standing there worshipping God while you had a helmet on your head, a hymn book in one hand, and a rifle in the other.

The contrast is stark. The peace of Christmas in the middle of combat. A hymn book and a rifle. This story could serve a useful purpose in reminding us to be thankful for the relative tranquility of our daily lives and worship. Or, in some cases, this story might mirror our daily lives. Sometimes our time in church is only a brief interlude to prolonged conflict, anger, or anxiety. When we find ourselves in such a state, it is time to take stock of our relationship with the Savior. It takes a certain amount of spiritual discipline, including regular prayer, study, and service, to keep Jesus at the center of our lives when we’re not in church. Only then will the rest of our lives take on that same sense of order and tranquility that we find in the sanctuary.

Be joyous always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

—1 Thessalonians 5:16 18


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