The year 2018 was full of many big events – fires and natural disasters; terrorism; political upheaval and change; triumphs on playing fields and in science and exploration. The stock markets rocketed upwards, and in the past few weeks have tumbled downwards, causing a lot of anxiety and trauma; but patience is no less a virtue now than it was last year, and the wise investor will not be panicked by bad markets just as he should not be in euphoria over good ones.
2018 saw the passing of some very famous and prominent people: former President George H W Bush and the former First Lady Barbara Bush; the evangelist Billy Graham; US Senator John McCain; columnist Charles Krauthammer; Astronauts John Young and Alan Bean, who both were among the twelve men who have walked on the moon; sportscaster Keith Jackson; singers Aretha Franklin and Vic Damone; Astrophysicist Steven Hawking; and many others. Each had distinctive accomplishments and each did what all of us wish for ourselves – to leave the world a better place than we found it.
But the end of the year also brings us close to Christmas, the day that celebrates the birth of The One who truly made this world a better place, and whose promise gives us the gift of eternal life. There may have been only twelve people who walked on the moon, but Jesus Christ’s life continues to be the most important and most influential of all the billions of people who have walked on this earth. Let us enjoy the gifts and the trees; the holiday songs; Santa and Frosty and Rudolph; the Elf on the Shelf and Baby, It’s Cold Outside; for all of those things and hundreds more have become important and valuable parts of the season in their own way; But let us never forget the real reason that we observe Christmas. The Hope that was born in that stable in Bethlehem so long ago animates us today and gives us the example of peace and charity and grace.
As we read in First Cornithians chapter 13: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things; charity never faileth. . .” If we all took those words to heart, and the words in the rest of that chapter as well, and practiced them in each of our interactions with others, just think how pleasant and wonderful our lives would be. And it all began in that stable in Bethlehem all those years ago.