Once again, as the world has done for centuries on end, we take today to remember the birth of one Jesus Christ.
Once again, I publish a little past with an infusion of some present and lots of hope and prayer for the future.
First up are my personal feelings toward this day as embodied in the lines of my own feeble attempt at poetry written many, many moons ago.
Second, is the opening of last years Christmas column followed by an editorial penned this year for my local paper, the Joplin Globe.
And last, but by no means least is a column from the editor of that paper, Carol Stark, poignantly reminding us all that not only do we still need Christmas we need MORE of it.
Wherever you are today, whatever you may be doing, please if you do nothing else, take but a few moments and pray for our men and women in uniform, pray for our country, pray for Christians around the world being persecuted at this very moment, and most of all, pray thanks to God that he sent his only son those many, many years ago.
The world was but a cradle,
When the infant child was born.
Nothing but a manger,
For which to keep him warm.
The Angels’ chorus sang,
There was frankincense and myrrh,
Yet not a sound he made,
This child, with heart so pure.
No mortal man could see,
As the star shone down that night,
How this small defenseless babe,
Would fill the world with light.
For twas on that peaceful night,
God sent his only son.
That one day he’d be a man,
Eternal life would come.
So let us now rejoice,
Our souls through him redeemed.
Remember not the presents,
But what Christmas truly means……
From December 25th, 2011, the opening to last year’s Christmas post:
Whether it it be the pathetic postal worker who complained about his “union brother” wearing a Santa Clause suite on his rounds, or the atheists taking over what once were nativity scenes in California, or the absurdity and violence that broke out across the country over a stupid pair of tennis shoes, it would seem to an outside observer that Christmas has more to do with egos and materialism than Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.
But for all the idiocy we have here, let us not forget that there are Christians around the world being persecuted today for their faith just as they were those two millenium now past when the Prince of Peace brought forth to us salvation through him………
And a little reminder this year that it differs little from last:
Tis the Season (First published, Friday, December 21st, 2012 in the Joplin Globe)
– In Little Rock, Ark., the Agape Church was forced to cancel its planned matinee performances of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for local elementary school students because a group calling itself “Arkansas Society of Free Thinkers” threatened legal action against the school district because of the play’s “religious content.”
In Missoula, Mont., a group of “anonymous” Chief Charlo Elementary School parents wrote a letter to the school district complaining that the holiday music programming included too many “religious” songs. Not satisfied with just proclaiming their dis-approval, the unsigned letter went so far as to claim the practice was a form of bullying.
Whether you agree on whether there is an ongoing “war on Christmas” or an “attack on Christianity,” anyone would be hard pressed not to acknowledge that common sense has pretty much left for the hills and left in its place a sack full of intolerance and pettiness that seems to grow larger with each passing year.
No matter your personal religious beliefs or non-beliefs, Christmas is Christmas.
You can be the most devout atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew or High Priestess of the Order of Perpetual Scrooges, and it doesn’t change the fact that Christmas has always been and always will be about the birth of Jesus Christ.
To some he is a savior, to others a prophet, and to still others he was just a man. But one does not have to believe in the religious, to participate in the giving of peace and kindness toward your fellow man that the narrative of Christmas embodies.
Complaints such as those in Little Rock and Missoula pale with pettiness when compared with the absolute utter devastation and tragedy that has befallen so many families and communities this past year.
Whether it be in the over a dozen states home to the families and victims of man-made mass violence or the tens of dozens across other states that lost their lives to Mother Nature, there is very real pain and suffering being endured by so many at this very moment.
And while any loss is painful to those in its grasp, there is something especially heartbreaking about the fact that in Newtown, Conn., this year there will forever remain presents unopened for 20 of the most innocent that humanity offers.
Would it really be so bad if but for just a little while we all remember what Christmas truly means?
Yes, Santa, we need a little Christmas (First published in the Sunday, December 23rd, 2012 edition of the Joplin Globe)
— Dear Santa,
I almost didn’t write you a letter this year. It is the first time in my life that I considered putting Christmas on the shelf.
As a longtime newspaper reader, I’m sure you know what has me and every other person I know so miserable this year. It’s hard to ask for gifts from you when the good people of Newtown, Conn., are crying over the terrible loss of their loved ones — many of whom were children. The world indeed seems such a wicked place — or at least that’s the way I felt a week ago.
So, I’m sorry this letter is so last minute, Santa, but please hear me out because I’ve dramatically changed my mind about Christmas this year.
Bring it on, Santa. Heap the sleigh high with peace and joy and certainly lots and lots of goodwill. We need Christmas now more than ever. I was wrong about the world going to hell in a hand basket. In the past week, I’ve talked with so many people who are trying their darnedest to make life better for others. They deserve a package of pats on the back and boxes of encouragement. They are going to need it as they fight the good fight.
Our children and grandchildren need us to sit close with them around the Christmas tree two days from now, hugging them, talking to them and reinforcing the message of the day.
So, Santa, now that you know I’ve got my head on straight, here are a few requests. By the way, take care as you travel over Washington, D.C., so as to avoid that fiscal cliff. Maybe someone will do something about that before Christmas.
I bought a little book for one of my grandsons about making good choices. I can think of lots of the leaders in this country who could sure use a book like this. Throw in some crayons, as a few of them act more like children than grownups when it comes to having intelligent discussions.
We said goodbye to the AmeriCorps team on Friday. They helped organize more than 157,000 volunteers after Joplin’s May 22, 2011, tornado. All told, volunteers have put in nearly a million hours of labor in our town. And even though AmeriCorps has other places it needs to go, there are still volunteers who continue to work. A back rub and a foot soak for all of them.
Could you make Tom Cruise taller for Christmas, Santa? Just a little selfish request on my part, but I know I would enjoy the movie “Jack Reacher” so much more with a character who is 6 feet 5 inches tall as his creator Lee Child intended him. (If I scrunch down in my seat way low and look up at the screen, maybe Cruise will look less like he was starring in “The Hobbit.”)
I’ve enjoyed reading about all the Christmases over the decades in our annual Globe holiday series. Who knew that people valued an orange in their stocking so much? So load up the citrus, Santa. Maybe a few simple gifts would humble us. If you run into my dad as you pass through the universe on Christmas Eve, toss him an orange and a fountain pen and give him a wink. He’ll laugh and maybe tell you the story about the Christmas when that was all you brought him. It was one of his favorite stories. I will miss hearing it this year.
I don’t know if anyone ever asks you for a few inches of rain, but put me on the list for that, Santa. Would love to actually be able to use my rain gauge.
And, I know a lot of others who are hoping for green pastures, full rivers and bountiful gardens this summer.
Santa, there are a few more chimneys in Joplin this year thanks to organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan’s Purse and Catholic Charities. You might need to reset your sled’s map because those families are going to be watching for you out the windows of their new homes.
Please be generous, they have waited so long to be back into a home.
May the lights of the stars guide your sleigh as you deliver the joy of the season.
Yes, Santa, we definitely need a little Christmas.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. Thank you and God Bless.