Merry Christmas, and a happy Nativity story.

On TV today, there are a lot of “Christmas” stories about giving, sharing, and compassion. Almost none make any reference to the very person whose virtues we’re being taught to emulate in them, namely Jesus. Except for A Charlie Brown Christmas, you’ll catch nary a whiff on network TV of the Nativity story recited by Linus from the Gospel According to Luke, verses 8 through 14: 

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.

…And that’s the Christmas story you don’t get much of from network TV. Merry Christmas.


What would you give the world for Christmas?

LR XMas WPAs Christmastime arrived I pondered what my present to the world would be if I had the power to bestow any gift I wished upon it. The gifts we receive generally fall into one of three categories:  Gifts we want, gifts we need, and well, those that get put in the closet.  Of course it would be hard to give billions of people what they want, anyway that’s Santa’s gig.  The world needs so many things, some of them greatly.  The world also has a lot already– technology, information, skyscrapers. What does it really need?

My first answer might have been the same as many others:  Peace.  The world desperately needs peace.  One problem with peace is it’s not always just and tends to be fleeting.  Peace sometimes happens at the end of a fight, regardless of the morality of the victor.  It is the absence of conflict.  Conflict is what drives us to excel, to solve problems, to grow. Peace might better be earned, rather than given or forced.

If not peace, than surely happiness. Everyone can benefit from happiness. We like to see happy people.  We can even tell when animals are happy.  It’s infectious and we of course, enjoy it.  Like peace though, it does not care how it comes about.  Bad people can be happy.  Evil makes some people happy.  Also like peace, it tends to be fleeting.

If peace and happiness were not an ideal gift, unless they exist in the right way and together, then surely health would be the greatest gift to humanity.  Some people already have it.  Some have it and are miserable.  Some people who are not in great health have happiness, and would not trade for it.  Health is usually not as fleeting a condition as peace or happiness, but cannot last forever.  It’s suitable to wish for individuals and we pray for our loved ones to have it when they don’t, but nature in the end always exerts her control over our mortal shells.

What then would I give to the world had I the power?  What condition when present can bring into being the virtues of peace, happiness, and even health?  The answer to me is love.  It’s a peacemaker, it makes us happy, and we can experience it as both a physical and mental phenomenon.  It is sorely missed when it is lacking.  Hate can exist in the presence of peace, happiness, even health, but not for long in the presence of love.  Love dissolves and transmutes it.  It exists in whatever from we need it, as motherly love, brotherly love, it exists between people of similar interests as friendship, it exists between people who work and serve together as comradery.  There is the supreme form of love for and by the Creator, for and of His creation; this would make the perfect gift.

Peace, happiness, and health are greatly needed, but not always in equal measures to everyone. Love is the gift that all human beings, indeed, all living beings can benefit from.   It comes in whatever form it is needed.  All have some access to it already, but we can be blind to its presence.  It’s free, but not always freely given.  Sometimes sadly, it is not accepted or seen for what it is.  If I had the means offer it to all and all hearts would be open to it, I think that’s what I would give as a gift to the world.  Is it possible we already have this gift and it remains unopened?  Perhaps we already commemorate the receipt of this gift every year around this time. Merry Christmas!