Moral Injury

A Cure for Hatred

Author: Chaplain, Lt. Col. David Causey, USA (Ret.)

Photo by Marines is licensed under CC BY 2.0

James Montgomery was a shiftless vagrant.

He had failed in school and had dropped out of his apprenticeship as a baker’s assistant. He was orphaned at the age of twelve. His Christian missionary parents, whom he hardly knew, died in the West Indies. And, now, with no ambition, no job, no money, and no family in 18th Century England, it was clear that James also had no future.

James had another strike against him – he was Irish. And the incessant persecution he faced from the English brewed in his heart. The hatred became the driving force in his life.

James Montgomery did have one love – writing. So when he teamed up with the editor of the Sheffield Register, James appeared to have found his element. The Sheffield Register was a Pro- Irish newspaper. Eventually James took over as editor and used his paper the Sheffield Iris as a weapon for Irish independence. Twice his scathing, anti-English editorials landed him in prison. But this only strengthened his resolve to fight.

Yet for all the anger that filled his heart, James Montgomery sensed a deep emptiness in his life. He turned to the faith of his parents. James began reading Scripture, and eventually found peace of soul in place of the tempest that raged within him. The first sign of this came with one significant editorial printed on Christmas Eve, 1816. This editorial was actually a poem entitled, “Nativity.”

Angels from the realms of glory, Wing your flight o’er all the earth;

Ye who sang creation’s story, Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds, in the field abiding, Watching o’er your flocks by night,

God with us is now residing; Yonder shines the infant light.

Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Though an Infant now we view Him, He shall fill His Father’s throne,

Gather all the nations to Him; Every knee shall then bow down:

Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King.

 

All creation, join in praising, God, the Father, Spirit, Son,

Evermore your voices raising, To th’eternal Three in One.

Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Montgomery’s “Nativity,” took all his readers by surprise. One person in particular took notice – Henry Smart. Smart was a devout Christian and composer of hymns. He forsook a promising career as a British lawyer and politician. Instead he devoted himself to revising the worship of the Church of England. Henry Smart took Montgomery’s “Nativity,” composed a stirring melody for it. Then he published it. Soon it became one of the most beloved hymns of the church.

But this was a strange collaboration. Henry Smart was no Irishman. He was an upper class Englishman, at the center of everything that James Montgomery had fought against. Under any other circumstances these two men would have been worst enemies. But the message of the humble Christ, took the sword from James’ heart. The holy Child of Christmas brought these two enemies together. And together they produces one of the most beloved of all Christmas carols.

Jesus Christ can do that. The same Lord who commanded us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. He even prayed for His own murderers from the cross. He can heal our angry hearts and remove the hatred.

Prayer:

Dear Father in heaven, please heal my angry heart. Reconcile me to God and the people around me. Make me an instrument of your peace. Amen.

 

If you are dealing with this issue, you do not need to face the challenge alone. Jesus has conquered every challenge so you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming hope. Invite him to lead you in your journey. He will forgive, comfort, and heal you.

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