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Peace on earth


By Yvonne Nyenhuis

Fri, Dec 13th, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

The birth of a baby is a source of wonder. We marvel at the perfection of the tiny toes and fingers of this miniature person. Once he gets over the insult of being thrust into the world, he settles into his blanket and goes to sleep as if nothing extraordinary has taken place.

According to the Christmas story, Mary was told that her baby would be special. Since the birth of Jesus, we have had other leaders born in humble circumstances who, as grown men, changed the course of history. Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Kentucky. Nelson Mandela was born in a small hut in a village in Africa. When President Obama was born to a young woman from Kansas and an African father, his parents had no way of knowing that he would become President of the United States and the leader of the “Free World.”

Sixteen years ago my husband and I went with our oldest son and his wife to spend Christmas with my family in Pennsylvania. Christmas Eve we attended an informal service in a multi-purpose building. The minister wore slacks and a sweater. Music was provided by someone playing a guitar. As we entered the building, we were each given a candle. At the designated moment the lights were turned out. Someone went along the isle lighting the first candle in each row. Then the flame was passed along as we turned to light the candle of the person sitting next to us. Soon faces emerged in the darkness as the light filled the room.

I often think of that moment. Most of us will not do great things and change the world but we all have the power to light a candle and help dispel the darkness.

When the angel appeared to the shepherds, he said, “Fear not, for I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people!” The message of Christmas is not for any one group. It includes people of all religions, believers and non-believers. “Glory to god in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” We are told “He shall be called the Prince of Peace.” While peace on earth may appear to be unattainable, we have leaders like Ghandi, Mandela, and Martin Luther King that renew our faith, that love can overcome hate and that good can conquer evil. In a speech recently, President Obama said that Nelson Mandela reminds us “We must be guided by our hopes instead of by our fears.”

Daily we are assailed by a media which thrives on conflict. Advertisements, political pundits and televangelists tell us we must be afraid. CNN is to be congratulated for bringing heroes into the spotlight. Oprah has interviewed people who do amazing things. Changing behavior is not easy. Stepping out of the comfort zone requires courage. Staying with a commitment to lift up those who need help requires personal sacrifice.

For those of us who are not brave, hopefully it’s enough to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings, enjoy sharing the colored lights, music and delicious food of the season.

It is the wish of my husband Glenn and I, that the spirit of Christmas finds you now, and stays with you in the coming year!

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