Each year I ask my best man, Pat Tracy, to deliver a blessing for us. I admire him for his service on the sea, and to God. This is not about patriotism, or a holiday, but to me it is a fitting time for everyone everywhere to pause and ponder, and give thanks as well as just give of ourselves. Neither Pat nor I want to offend anyone who thinks differently, but we do not mind if it sparks some dialog. This is not an attempt by me to impose any religious belief, but it is an overt attempt to reflect on that which we have, and that we can do to make next year a better and brighter prospect for those we care about.
Here is Pat's blessing:
Last year, I challenged JOTW readers to do what they could to make the world a better place. Many responded by sharing activities and projects in which they are involved, which aim to do just that. Some chose not to respond publicly, while others took issue with the propriety of issuing such a challenge in this venue. The various responses were honest, forthright, and (as far as I can determine) genuinely reflected the writers’ thoughts and feelings.
As we approach the traditional time for the JOTW blessing this year, we can indeed recall those people who have been helped by our efforts and the involvement of our coworkers in the past twelve months. The evening news, however, reminds us of different things… darker things, which prove that all is not “right with the world”. In other words, incidents which remind us that we who have the ability to reach out to others less fortunate than ourselves, must continue to do so whenever we can.
But what is it that makes our hearts and our thoughts turn to the idea of “blessing” at this time of year? Whether or not you call yourself ‘religious’, ‘observant’, or one of a host of other words describing spiritual awareness and practice… everyone who has given a Christmas present, sent a card, or indeed dated a document with the year “2008” lately… has acknowledged the historical fact of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem so many years ago. Our gift-giving (blessing) emulates both the supreme gift to humanity of God sending His Son, and the contemporary acknowledgement by the Magi, “wise men” (scientifically learned men) who brought the Christ child gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We in the USA are reminded of these facts by Congressional action designating Christmas as a Federal holiday on 26 June 1870.
I have borrowed some explanatory notes from www.patriotism.org:
The best known of the federal holidays is most certainly Christmas Day. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ a prominent religious figure of Christianity, although not all Christian sects celebrate the holiday and many other non-Christians celebrate Christmas as a cultural holiday. Christmas Day is designated as December 25th, though many don’t believe this to be the actually day of the birth of Jesus.
Christmas Eve, December 24th, is also a day of celebration for many with numerous events and observations that lead up to Christmas Day. Christmas became an official federal holiday in 1870 when it was enacted by President Grant. As early as the 1930’s people began expressing concerns over the commercialization of Christmas when President Delano Roosevelt wanted to move Thanksgiving forward to make the holiday shopping season longer in hopes of boosting the economy.
Today new controversy has risen with many feeling that having Christmas Day as a federal holiday violates the separation of church and state. The argument began in the 1980’s but has been repeatedly overruled in courts and remains as a federal holiday. Today there are many recognizable elements to Christmas celebrations, among the most notable being Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, Santa Clause and the nativity scene.
Copyright © 2008 Patriotism.org
Our ability to bestow “good” on others is a direct benefit of God’s graciousness to us. He has given us the talents and abilities to do what we do, to know right from wrong, to discern when a person is downtrodden or oppressed, and needs that help. It is fitting that we thank Him for bestowing these blessings on us, and enabling us to pass them to others.
This year, we will have unprecedented (in most of our lifetimes) opportunity to help neighbors, friends and total strangers who have been affected by the economic downturn. Let us thank God – the Source of all blessing – for what He has given us, and be willing to share them with those in need.
May each in the JOTW community enjoy a wonderful Christmas, and a blessed 2009.