We hope you are preparing for a Merry Christmas this week.
We mean it.
Yes, dark are the streets in many places today and heavy are our hearts - for our young children inexplicably lost to an evil that we do not, we cannot, understand.
But it was dark that first Christmas in old Judea. And the heaviness then was that of those who know no hope.
We are not so bereft.
Christmas needs no coddling, no sheltering from the hard facts of life. The day was born in desperation and despair, and nourished on hopes long deferred.
Christmas is tough. That is why its signs of promise have always been symbols of tenderness and fragility. That is why we deck the house with holly and trim the tree with ornaments as insubstantial as a bubble.
Christmas has such solid substance in itself that it can be safely entrusted to the insubstantialities- to candles that flicker with the slightest breeze, to mystic voices that come to lonely watchers in silent places, to wonder-tales that laugh at logic, to the lively light in the eyes of the children we hold so close today, to the heart's elation at the pure joy of doing good.
And the substantiality of Christmas is that of love itself, for Christmas is love incarnate. Hate is the weak thing that goes to pieces at the first sign of opposition.
Love is the thing that lasts. And God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Let us accept the gift and bless the giver this week. Let us remember the man who, in the shortest time and with the scantest materials, managed to make of human life the most divine thing ever seen on this earth.
And in remembering, let us renew faith in the power of people of good will to overcome the darkness of the day and to provide for everyone, in spirit and in substance, a very Merry Christmas.