by Mike Payne
On December 15, 1983, President Ronald Reagan gave the following speech at the annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree, publicly recognizing, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America, the absolute necessity of the blessing of God to the future and prosperity of our nation:
Christmas is a time for giving, and as we reach out to family and friends, I hope we’ll also open our hearts to those who are lonely and in need, citizens less fortunate than ourselves, brave soldiers working to preserve peace from the tip of Alaska to the shores of Lebanon, to the DMZ in Korea, families maintaining a constant vigil for their missing in action, and millions forbidden the freedom to worship a God who so loved the world that He gave us the birth of the Christ Child so that we might learn to love each other. I know they would welcome your expressions of love and support.
Many stories have been written about Christmas. Charles Dickens’ “Carol” is probably the most famous. Well, I’d like to read some lines from a favorite of mine called, “One Solitary Life,” which describes for me the meaning of Christmas. It’s the story of a man born of Jewish parents who grew up in an obscure village working in a carpenter shop until he was 30 and then for 3 years as a preacher. And, as the story says, he never wrote a book, he never held an office, he never had a family, he never went to college, and he never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for the only piece of property that he had on Earth. When he was dead he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone. And today he is the centerpiece of much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon Earth as powerfully as this one solitary life.
I have always believed that the message of Jesus is one of hope and joy. I know there are those who recognize Christmas Day as the birthday of a great and good man, a wise teacher who gave us principles to live by. And then there are others of us who believe that he was the Son of God, that he was divine. If we live our lives for truth, for love, and for God, we never need be afraid. God will be with us, and He will be part of something much larger, much more powerful and enduring than any force here on Earth.
On that note, I have nothing more to add, except, “Merry Christmas!”