As the world nears the end of 2019, terrorism and violence continue in the Middle East and political conflict at home is extreme, although signs of peace are seen in many places. It is a time when many Americans think of generosity, as well they should.
The Christmas story from Luke, Chapter 2, published annually by the Dispatch for a number of years in this space, is just as meaningful as ever:
About this time Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the nation. (This census was taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
Everyone was required to return to his ancestral home for this registration. And because Joseph was a member of the royal line, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, King David’s ancient home — journeying there from the Galilean village of Nazareth. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Saviour — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,” they sang, “and peace on earth for all those pleasing him.”