Once again, and for the past several years, at Christmas I’ve referred with affection to the message presented many years ago in a Wall Street Journal editorial by long gone Pulitzer Prize winning editor Vermont Royster. It’s been published annually since 1949. My feelings about him and his poignant observations on Christmas were a tender testimonial to his appreciation of the spirit of Christmas. They are worth repeating again this year.
His editorial starts by describing the misery, depravity and hopelessness of civilization and conditions brought about by corruption and contempt for human life under Tiberius Caesar at the time of Christ’s birth. But the darkness of despair was changed when, “Of a sudden, there was a light in the world,” as he described the birth of Christ, and ultimately, “The voice from Galilee,” offering a new Kingdom that spread his Gospel throughout the world.
The message is expressed often in the New Testament and the significant reference by Royster is to the Apostle Paul. While addressing his brethren the Galatians, he speaks with hope, but with caution, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty where-with Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
I think the objective of Royster’s editorial is simply to remind people the blessing of Christ is always there, even in a not very nice world. But he presents the warning the possibility of darkness is ever-present and can, “Settle again over the lands and there would be burning of books and men would think only of what they should wear and give heed only to new Caesars and false prophets.”
He’s right. It’s easy to lose the spiritual message of Christmas and many find it difficult to find the light that appeared in Bethlehem thousands of years ago. But the message today is the same one that has strengthened and enriched the lives of millions over these thousands of years. It is the eternal truth of Christian love and freedom reflected in Christ’s life and His welcome is repeated in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” May that thought find its way into your heart as you celebrate the meaning of Christmas.