England during the time that the first American colonists settled in our country, celebrated Christmas as a drinking day, an excuse for excess and immorality. It was something Christians did not do. So when the first settlers established the American colonies, no one even considered celebrating Christmas. That was a British thing, not an American one, and especially not a Christian one. Of course, times have changed...
But one fateful night of December 25th does make me love that date. It was a major turning point in the Revolutionary War against the British. General Washington and his young, ill-equipped, rag-tag army of farmers and merchants who joined the fight to be free of British rule, were about to die in the freezing winter in Pennsylvania. Over 90% of the volunteers Washington once had, had deserted after a number of bitter defeats earlier that year. It looked like all hope was gone that America would ever be an independent nation.
Liberty or Death was a note Washington had scribbled to himself, which was later found by one of his officers after launching, what to all accounts, was a suicide mission. It was to take his tired, sick and starving army across the freezing Delaware River in the dark into New Jersey, hike nine miles through the snow to attack the outpost in Trenton where the British and Hessian troops were garrisoned. Many of his soldiers had no boots, only cloths wrapped around their feet, trailing blood in the snow as they marched. Water had seeped into their gunpowder, the freezing weather jammed their rifles. They'd have to fight with bayonets or hand to hand combat. This was a do-or-die mission.
Historians say that the Battle of Trenton was one of the most pivotal of the entire Revolution. Their enemies slept in comfortable tents and barracks with plenty of food, an arsenal of weapons, the finest uniforms, boots, coats and well-fed horses. Their enemies had also been celebrating Christmas all that day, drinking, feasting, relaxing, and certain that such a scrawny army like Washington's were too pitiful to even consider a threat.
Washington's troops marched right in, barefoot, freezing and audaciously bold, and overwhelmed their complacent enemies in a surprise attack. In a short period of time, with few deaths and hundreds of prisoners, Washington's men finally had an amazing victory to celebrate. Days afterwards, news spread over the colonies and men from everywhere began to volunteer to join the revolutionaries. Morale shot through the roof - they would be on the winning side, and victory after victory followed. Other tough battles had to be fought, but none as desperately as Trenton's, and the rest is history.
December 25th is a day of inspiration for me - a day that I plan to fight in prayer for so many people I know who are living under oppression, to be in our church all day, to counsel, help and reach out to anyone who is willing to be helped. Our world is so full of evil and innocence is being snuffed out - not only in the big news stories like the tragedy in Connecticut, but in ordinary every day occurrences.
And for those who want to celebrate the birth of Jesus on this day, wasn't that a day when His battle against evil really began? He was born into poverty, humiliation, rejection and already on the hit-list of King Herod. He was born for the cross, to win a massive victory against Satan. I'd rather honor Him by fighting as well.
A disclaimer to my dear friends in Great Britain: Hey, you win some, you lose some:) Love y'all!