On Christmas Day, like no other on the calendar, compassion and generosity resonate. Children are the center of our universe. Our bonds are celebrated. Hope lives. It is Christmas.
This is the day the birth of Jesus is observed in Christian communities from Tucumcari to Portales and across the world. As told in the gospel according to Luke, an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds in fields nearby and said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you.”
It also is the culmination of a holiday season that touches hearts and minds in a way that cuts across religious lines, more so than any other holiday we celebrate in America. It has for generation upon generation come to represent a special time of giving, of caring not only for ourselves and our own families but also others in need.
In eastern New Mexico, that spirit is evident through numerous non-profit programs that assist hundreds of the less fortunate.
Curry County’s United Way wrapped up its campaign drive this week, reaching its goal in a big way on Thursday. Clovis’ Mike and Joyce Landgraf learned the campaign was about to fall short of its goal by more than $11,000, so they donated the difference.
The Salvation Army’s voice was strong this year, thanks to a new and energetic leadership team.
Area radio stations led fund-raising efforts that produced thousands of dollars to help the needy.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles of Clovis gave $100 shopping sprees to nearly 100 area youth.
About 30 National Honor Society students from Fort Sumner bought gifts for a prison ministry that provides gifts to children of inmates.
Police held annual fund-raising drives. In Portales, Operation Santa Cop helped more than 100 kids — double the number it assisted when its program began six years ago.
The list goes on and on.
Christmas seems to bring out the best in all of us.
Out of Judeo-Christian teachings have sprung two guiding statements of moral principle — the Ten Commandments and Golden Rule — which, if followed in a genuine way every day, would lay the foundation for a better world than we inhabit today.
Adhering to them promotes peace and goodwill.
They would lead us to live lives more full than if we choose to believe there are no eternal moral principles that govern our lives and our relationships with others.
Unfortunately, too often — for reasons each of us must come to terms with on our own — these guiding moral principles are forgotten in the stress, the crush of day-to-day living.
And so, we lament the coarsening of our society — the violence, the hypocrisy and vulgarities in our public life, the loss of a sense of virtue to aspire to, the seeming rootlessness and lack of purpose in the lives of too many youth, the devaluing of life itself.
We can do better. It is a matter in part of accepting a sense of responsibility, taking a first step, in our own way, to make a change for the better.
There is much each of us has to give, on our own or in concert with others who share our sense of purpose. This is so, whether or not it at first seems possible.
In trying, we will change our communities, our state, our world for the better. In trying, we will come closer to living out the legacy Jesus gave to the world through his life and ministry.
This is a hope worth celebrating today — indeed, every day — whether we are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or non-believers.
It is the essence of Christmas.