The Christmas season has always been my most favorite time of the year. A joyful time to share with family and friends and a time to re-affirm our faith, identity and purpose in this world. However, as I reflect once again on the past year I find myself troubled, questioning whether we are beyond a “tipping point” as a nation, as neighbors, and as a people who live in this great country. Everywhere we turn there seems to be strife, division and darkness and I find myself asking once again if there really is hope for us, as a people and as a nation? And then I am reminded of our great hope when I hear the beautiful words of the famed Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”
The carol was based on a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1863. At the time he wrote the poem, Longfellow had recently lost his wife in a tragic fire, the nation was being torn apart by civil war and his oldest son was critically wounded while fighting for the Union. Longfellow, for a time, must have burdened an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and darkness that is clearly depicted in the early stanzas of his poem; “…hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men”. Yet Longfellow knew there was a very real hope for him, for the future, for the nation, as he leaned on his faith and the knowledge that a great light was given to mankind on Christmas Day. “And peeled the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor does he sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men!”
The hope that many of us share this Christmas season is a “confident expectation” that the God that I serve is still very active in the lives of His creation. So yes my friends, there is great hope for us all, “For unto us a child is born, a son is given to us; the government will rest on his shoulders and he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6). Merry Christmas my friends, to you and your families; may the New Year bring a renewed season of hope, prosperity and restoration. God bless you all this season and may God bless this great country of ours!