Republished from the Dec. 25, 1945, issue of the Minneapolis Star-Journal.
Every adult feels closer to his own childhood at Christmas. The old customs prevail. The foods are the same that grandma and mother spread on the holiday table. The long preparations beforehand are so steeped in tradition that the days culminating in Christmas surreptitiously lead one back along the years to a time when the world seemed much more secure. Clement Moore gave the essence of that feeling in his beloved verse:
“The children were nestled
All snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums
Danced in their heads.”
Now, surely, there is a change from all that. Atomic energy lies waiting to blow us all to eternity if mankind makes a false move. Statesmen have talked of war to end war, yet weapons have become more destructive, suspicions fill many minds, and the commandments of the Old Testament and the teachings of Christ are flouted all around:
Is security then a will-o’-the-wisp and the Christmas message of peace and goodwill a mockery?
Complete security is something man can never know and probably would not like if he had it. In retrospect the past may seem to have been more secure, for we have found out all it contained. The things we feared did not, in the main, eventuate. The past is laid away in neat packages.
Yet the old times, if we are honest, were full of dismays. There were times when the dark and eclipses were feared. Providing the simplest food was a constant battle. Plagues struck wholesale and medieval man had only superstitious weapons with which to fight back.
Now man has different problems, as much larger as his opportunities are larger. Risks keep pace with capabilities.
But what guides and strengthens him?
The Christmas message.
For more that 19 centuries, the teachings of Christ have been kept alive. Many men have forgotten or denied them. But they and their philosophies have passed and the word of God has shone again and again. It is those who violate the Christian ethic who fail.
Peace on earth and goodwill to men.
In that message is confidence. It is an aspiration to tie to. If it were not, the world would not proclaim it anew each year. There is practical security in that ever new message of the Savior’s birth.
‘No Room at the Inn”
The birth that is celebrated today almost everywhere in the world occurred in a manger. There was no room at the inn.
“No room at the inn” has a direct meaning today for more people and families than ever before in the world’s history. In the United States, more than 3 million families are without separate homes. With the return of servicemen and women, the number of heads of families next year could grow several times faster than the number of houses we shall be able to build.
In the war-torn sections of the world, tens of millions of families also find that there is no room at the inn. There is no room anywhere for most of them. In fact, many millions will be moved even from their homelands.
The world must get on with a job of building that will surpass any effort the world hitherto has seen — except the war itself. Along with this building there is a peace to be built so that the root cause of homelessness — the scourge of war — can be eradicated.