By Scott Robetson
This column first ran in News & Neighbor Christmas Eve 2014. Considering the recent controversy in Tennessee regarding Christmas and higher education, we felt it appropriate to reprint in this issue. Merry Christmas from your friends at Johnson City News & Neighbor.
If you are bothered or offended by Christianity – if your faith in another religion, or your faith in your own atheism (atheism, after all, is merely having faith that what you don’t believe isn’t true) prohibit you from reading words about Christianity without being off-put – then please, gentle reader, enjoy the contents of another page of this newspaper. There are many stories in this issue that may still give you hope and good cheer without requiring you to trouble your sensibilities with talk of the Christ child.
For in this space today, we shall discuss Christmas, and I don’t know how to write about Christmas without mentioning the birth of the Messiah, nor frankly do I think I should like to try.
And actually, I haven’t done most of the writing. As is my wont around holidays, I shall provide this space to those who can speak to the nature and meaning of this particular holiday far better than I can.
I have chosen to look (for the most part) past the trappings of a modern Christmas and concentrate instead on the event we claim to celebrate.
Thus, with all due respect to Clement Moore, who wrote “Twas the night before Christmas” and whom I hold in high esteem; and with all due respect to Francis P. Church, who used his editorial space in the New York Sun more than a century ago to assure a young girl named Virginia of the existence of Santa Claus, I shall hold this space for those who have written on topics first covered by a quartet of apostles.
So no season’s tweetings here (though I hold it not against you to post your present-opening videos on your facebook page). Today we shall use the old technology of the printing press to do what the first presses were built to do: print words like, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whomsoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
How many observe Christ’s birthday, how few his precepts!
• Benjamin Franklin
I sing the birth was born tonight,
The author both of life and light.
• Ben Jonson
Christmas is joy, religious joy, an inner joy of light and peace.
• Pope Francis
At Christmas, play and make good cheer –
For Christmas comes but once a year.
• Thomas Tusser
Peace on Earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
• Charles Wesley
‘Tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.
To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.
• E.B. White
Many merry Christmases, friendships, great accumulation of cheerful recollections, affection on Earth, and Heaven at last for all of us.
• Charles Dickens
They all were looking for a king
To slay their foes and lift them high.
Thou cam’st, a little baby thing,
That made a woman cry.
• George McDonald
They keep Christmas all the year.
• Edward Walker
Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.
• Dale Evans
Today he makes his entrance here,
But not as monarchs do.
No gold, nor purple swaddling bands,
Nor royal shining things;
A manger for his cradle stands,
And holds the King of kings.
• Isaac Watts
God seeks to influence humanity. This is at the heart of the Christmas story. It is the story of light coming into the darkness, of a Savior to show us the way, of light overcoming the darkness, of God’s work to save the world.
• Adam Hamilton
Great little One, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to Earth.
• Richard Crenshaw
God rest you merry gentlemen.
Let nothing you dismay.
For Jesus Christ, our savior,
Was born upon this day.
There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. It is the time to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart – and our neighbors as ourselves.
• Thomas S. Monson
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
• Luke 2: 11,14 (KJV)