In recent years, a growing number of public officials and bodies have worked to reduce Christmas to a secular holiday, obscuring and at times even denying its origins. This is why it is always inspirational to recall the Christmas words of leaders from previous generations.
For example, in his Christmas Eve address of 1949, President Harry Truman told the nation:
Since returning home, I have been reading again in our family Bible some of the passages which foretold this night. . . . We miss the spirit of Christmas if we consider the Incarnation as an indistinct and doubtful, far-off event unrelated to our present problems. We miss the purport of Christ’s birth if we do not accept it as a living link which joins us together in spirit as children of the ever-living and true God. In love alone – the love of God and the love of man – will be found the solution of all the ills which afflict the world today.
And on Christmas Eve, 1952, he declared:
Through Jesus Christ the world will yet be a better and a fairer place. This faith sustains us today as it has sustained mankind for centuries past. This is why the Christmas story, with the bright stars shining and the angels singing, moves us to wonder and stirs our hearts to praise. Now, my fellow countrymen, I wish for all of you a Christmas filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and many years of future happiness with the peace of God reigning upon this earth.
This week there was a refreshing throwback to the spirit of the leaders of previous generations. The occasion was the lighting of the Christmas tree at the U. S. Capitol.
During those ceremonies, Speaker of the U. S. House John Boehner reminded the nation:
Though winter is upon us, the Christmas tree flourishes as a symbol of everlasting life. That life and light, of course, is Christ, whose birth to Mary fulfilled a prophecy of joy and salvation. Out in the fields where the shepherds slept, the angels broke the silence by singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men.” We best serve this story by serving one another . . . by showing it is more blessed to give than to receive, especially when so many of our fellow citizens are without jobs and in need. For Christmas is not a distant historical event. It is a spirit, always bringing us closer to each other and closer to the peace of which the angels sang. So on behalf of my wife, Debbie, our two girls, my 11 brothers and sisters, and all the Boehners, I wish one and all a very Merry Christmas.
Kudos to Speaker Boehner for his courage and historical accuracy. And in the words written by Christian author Charles Dickens in 1843, and spoken by Tiny Tim in The Christmas Carol, “May God bless us, every one!”