Let us first agree on how not to celebrate Christmas: by standing in a Walmart check-out line. Let’s get our priorities straight. The spiritual takes precedence over the material, especially at Christmas.
Barry Goldwater knew this as well as anyone. Here’s how the charismatic senator from Arizona, who sparked a conservative revolution, put it in his book, “The Conscience of a Conservative”:
The root difference between the conservatives and the liberals of today is that conservatives take account of the whole man, while the liberals tend to look only at the material side of man’s nature. The conservative believes that man is, in part, an economic, an animal creature; but that he is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires. What is more, these needs and desires reflect the superior side of man’s nature.
Christmas is a time to remember those spiritual needs and to provide for them. Let us mute our television sets with their incessant “Buy! Buy! Buy!” commercial message, and instead turn to the Good Book, which says, “No man can serve two masters … You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Let us thank him for sending his only son to us some 2,000 years ago and starting salvation history.
Salvation has had its deadly enemies over the centuries. I am especially mindful of the many millions of Christians who lived under communism and those who still live under the communist yoke in China, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, and North Korea, and are denied any public demonstration of their faith.
One dramatic challenge to the communists occurred in June 1979 when Pope John Paul II visited his native Poland. Church officials gave out 30,000 tickets for a farewell mass, but 60,000 young people showed up.
Ronald Reagan at the time was a widely listened to radio commentator, and he covered the event. He reported that young people spread flowers on the path the pope would take, and on his entrance began to sing old hymns from memory while thousands “watched from housetops and windows from as far as the eye could see.”
A deeply moved John Paul put aside his prepared sermon and began speaking from the heart about the need for high ideals and to love God. It was 10:30 at night when he finished, and time for the blessing of the several large crosses the students had carried.
Suddenly, there was a multiplication not of loaves and fishes, but of crosses. The meaning of the night was revealed as the young men and women raised high the thousands and thousands of crosses they had brought, many of them homemade.
“These young people of Poland,” Reagan said, “had been born and raised and spent their entire lives under communist atheism.” He paused and concluded, “Try to make a Polish joke of that.”
The people of Poland and Hungary and Czechoslovakia and the other Soviet satellites of Eastern and Central Europe had to wait more than a decade for their freedom. But thanks to Reagan’s leadership as president—and the power of prayer—the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union dissolved two years later, ending the Cold War without a shot being fired.
So let us thank God for our many blessings, and borrow from William F. Buckley Jr., who was ever optimistic about America’s future.
One biographer has written that in 1970, when the nation’s divisions over the Vietnam War were at their most intense, the economy was faltering, politicians were predicting we would soon run out of natural resources, and the media spoke of irreconcilable societal differences, Buckley saw only good days ahead.
He declared over network TV that the “full-time undertakers” were always “disappointed that America does not die on schedule.”
Let us reject the naysayers, then, ignore the prophets of doom and gloom, and sing “Joy to the World” for the Lord has come. Let us turn to the Bible, which tells us: “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”