Good will, then peace

many-ChristmasesAt the end of my Tuesday post, Charlie Brown reflections, I tagged on the Christmas story that Linus recites in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Since Tuesday I have discovered how deeply Linus’s scene touches people. People have told me it’s their favourite scene. They have told me that as soon as Linus says “Lights please” a peaceful quiet descends on a room, and that all movement stops until Linus says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

The King James version of the Bible isn’t used in my progressive Christian church very often anymore, but Christmas is the one time of the year I wish they would. Other Bible versions cannot match the lyrical rhythm of the King James Luke 2:10-14.

But I’ve been mulling this passage over in my mind since Tuesday. I’m a stickler for non-gender-specific language, so I would rather have the words “all people” at the end instead of “men,” but I am willing to live with it in this case as a nod to a time when we didn’t know better. If I had to change something, it would be the order of the last phrase of the last line: “. . . and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The writer of this passage wished for peace first and then good will toward all people. Wouldn’t it work better the other way around?

If we had good will toward all people, peace would follow.

So this Christmas, no matter whether the season is a secular one or a religious one for you, show good will toward all people. From that, we make peace. 


Luke 2:10-14 (Arlene version)

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and with good will toward all people, on earth peace.


6 thoughts on “Good will, then peace

  1. Sharyn

    That biblical passage always brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for reminding me of the beauty of some readings in the ‘good book’.

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      I’m glad to hear that you like that passage. I know you struggle with the “good book,” as do I! (Especially the King James version.) But the more I take the time to study it from the point of view of “They did the best they could with the tools they had at the time,” the more I am able to appreciate the many inspirational lessons to be found in the Bible.

  2. Anthony Dalton

    Don’t get too caught up in the order of these words, Arlene. Remember that the original author almost certainly wrote in Aramaic. His/her words were then translated into Hebrew, then Latin and eventually into English. With so many languages it is possible that the words we read in English are quite different from the meaning of the original scriptures. As an example, many of my non-fiction articles have been translated into Arabic (Aramaic is similar in structure to Arabic). I have to re-write my original English language versions in a special way so they can be translated effectively. The translations do not always work out to my satisfaction. In the context of your post, the order of the words is, I feel, less important than the message: Let us have peace. Let us have good will to all creatures. Or, let us have good will to all creatures. Let us have peace. The message is the same. Excellent post idea. I always enjoy reading your messages. Peace and good will to you and yours. (Feel free to change the order of the words. The sentiment is the same.) Anthony

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      Yes, I’m aware of all the translations – they’ve caused many a problem over the years. I really wish the person who translated “I am the way, the truth and the life” had used “a” instead of “the”, for example.
      Good will and peace to you, too! Yep, I still like that order better. 🙂


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