Christmas message resounds in tough times

It’s been a trying year in many ways for Sweet Home residents, as it has been for much of our nation.

We don’t need to do any more than brush over the details – continued high unemployment, major revenue problems for the schools and local government that have threatened community institutions such as the swimming pool and raised concerns that other popular programs and activities in the schools might be at risk.

A lot of us are a little more wary of theives. (Who’s not locking things a little more carefully these days?) In keeping an ear tuned to the police scanner and looking through the law enforcement logs, which is what we do in the newsroom, we all have the sense that things are more tense – more squabbles out there, more calls on the cops to make peace.

Near the end of the rough road that has been 2011, we come to the Christmas season.

While the secular “Santa” Christmas message is pretty much one of “what’s in it for me, under the tree” with a little bit of righteous encouragement tacked on (bad kids don’t get good stuff), the themes associated with the biblical story of Jesus Christ’s birth, referred to by many as the “true” meaning of Christmas, are of grace and self-sacrifice – God showing compassion for human beings who need it. Those are themes we need to reflect on, particularly now.

In the extreme commercialization (that now apparently begins in earnest the day after Halloween) surrounding Christmas, it is easier than ever to lose sight of what this celebration originally was about.

In difficult days, such as many in our community are experiencing now, it is more important than ever to focus on the point of the scriptural account, explained by an angel before Jesus’ birth: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” and “they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated God with us.”

Whether one believes that mankind has a problem with sin, it is difficult to deny that the story in the Bible portrays a God who cared enough about His people to come among them and help them.

When life is tough, when tempers are flaring, when the mood is blue, as one of our letter writers below describes, remember another angelic statement about the effect of the birth of Christ: “…on earth, peace, good-will toward men.”

May that be true for all of us in the coming year.

Merry Christmas.