By Elaine Owen, Editor
We all view Christmas in a different way. For those who do not celebrate it, Christmas is just one of many federal holidays that offers a few vacation days away from work. Even for Christians, the day often has different meanings and feelings attached to it. Children may see Christmas only as a day in which Santa Claus brings them gifts from “wish lists” that were once prepared for Santa’s eyes only but now magically appear under the Christmas tree. For some, it is a day that will be spent alone without family or friends due to circumstances beyond their control.
This year, one word truly resonates with how I feel about this upcoming Christmas. I feel “hopeful” for a brighter future for my country. I’m optimistic that things are going to turn out all right. I am hopeful because I know that “man” is not in charge. We, as Christians, must live our lives for God and not for man. We also must not live our lives in fear, but rather we must live them in faith. How could anyone not be hopeful during this season when, as Christians, we know who gives us life and promises a future that is beyond comparison to any future that we may ever experience on this earth? It is a future that is filled with signs of His love for us. Every day, I see those signs from God in the form of miracles that only God could have arranged.
It gives me hope to know those who would give up the comfort of their warm beds and precious little time with family to provide for our homeless veterans when they are not obligated to do so but feel a moral obligation to serve others as Christ did.
Hope is important in times such as these. We live in a nation where children live homeless and suffer hunger. Climate change threatens God’s very creation. We look across the globe with concern at battles that rage in places like Syria and Afghanistan. And we fall to our knees after hearing about the 17-year-old son of a friend who seemed to have it all: good home life, top of his class, captain of the swim team, runner, preparing for college–and takes his own life.
In the midst of these times we find hope in the volunteers from our communities who work with homeless children. We marvel at those who spend their lives fighting for environmental protections. We give thanks for those who are teachers and first responders. We remember that blessed are the peacemakers who seek this Christmas season to end war. And we thank God for the wonderful teachers and school board who saw a problem in our schools and immediately joined together to keep our kids safe.
In my personal life, I am working to understand that suffering can sometimes make God seem far away and indifferent to our cries. Christmas reminds
us that God is close, that he wants to walk the path of life with each of us. When worldly peace seems difficult to achieve, we can draw strength from the promise of peace in the message of the angels: peace on earth to men of good will. It is a peace the world cannot give, but one that the world cannot take away. The message of Christmas is the triumph of life, goodness, and love over death, evil, and hate. May you have the gift of faith, the blessing of hope
and the peace of His love at Christmas and always.
I will share this New Year’s Prayer that was given to me: May God make your year happy. Not by shielding you from sorrows and pain, but by strengthening you to bear them as they come; not by making your path easy, but by making you strong to travel any path; not by taking hardships from you, but by taking fear from your heart; not by making your life always pleasant, but by showing you when people and their causes need you most and by making you be there to help.
God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead. And as 2018 comes to a close, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.