Reprinted from the Dec. 25, 1932, edition of the Minneapolis Tribune.
Every nation and every people has its commemorative holidays in whose observance they alone share, but Christmas is the day of all days throughout the entire Christian world. Regardless of racial and geographical boundaries, the spirit of Christmas transcends them all and unites diverse peoples in a tradition and a heritage that is for all people and all climes. Seas cannot divide, and differences in language cannot destroy, that all-pervading spirit of joy and warmth that creeps gently into the hearts of men today. Today the world becomes a family and the family a world.
Through the centuries that have come and gone since the shepherds hailed the advent of the first Christmas outside of Bethlehem, that day of days has not lacked for interpreters. Each succeeding generation, almost each year, has read into the Christmas story some word of particular import to itself. The secular observance of Christmas has not always been the same, for being close to the people it has shared their vicissitudes of thought and station. But above and beyond that which is essentially of the world in its observance, there has always remained constant that Spirit of Christmas which had its birth in Bethlehem and has lived to alter the whole course of human history.
It is as we move closer to that spiritual essence, and are able to feel the fullness and richness of the day itself, that we glimpse what Christmas can and has meant to the world. Today, perhaps more than ever, we feel the truth of those words uttered by Phillips Brooks, “The earth has grown old with its burden of care, but at Christmas it always is young.” Men and women have grown world-weary. Everywhere disillusionment, doubt, want and despair, press close and seem to weigh down with an inescapable burden upon individuals and communities.
It is into this unbalanced world that Christmas comes today with its message of love and peace, of hope and serenity. The ingress is hard and the world seems more inhospitable to anything so simple, but the spirit of Christmas cuts away all these and, for the time at least, testifies to the vitality and the power of the Spirit that was born on that day.
Into a confusion of voices comes the Voice of Christmas and bids them all “Be still.” In the hush, heart speaks to heart, just as the Christmas bells answer one another from hill to hill and town to town.
Into a world in which the spirits of men are sorely tried and much that once seemed important has been crumbling away, or at the moment seems precariously poised on the brink of disaster, the Voice of Christmas comes to speak strongly of hope. It bids men turn inward and hold fast to that which has endured and shall continue to endure.
Into an age that has had its fill of wars and rumors of wars, the Voice of Christmas speaks clearly of peace and good will. Men have glimpsed the shadow of peace, but never, within the memory of a single generation, has the world known security from those things that are the enemy of good will. It is easier to hate than to love, it is easier to condemn than to understand. The moment is not without the voices of hate and condemnation, and the Voice of Christmas bids men be patient and choose the way that leads to understanding. It is only that way, obscured though it frequently may be, that the earth shall find peace and men learn good will.
To a generation that has learned cynicism and doubt, the Voice of Christmas speaks first of faith. The moment makes doubt and denial seem natural. When the labor of years crumbles in our hands, and becomes less than nothing, it is all too easy to sink back in defeat and despair. The Voice of Christmas shows the folly of baseless doubt and points to that standard of value which time has not been able to assail. Men high in government and society call upon the world to seek confidence — but their voices are as nothing compared to the Voice which speaks only of that simple faith which is the fountain head of all confidence and security in a temporal world.
This is the Voice that speaks to all men and to all lands on this Christmas Day.
The Tribune can wish its friends and readers no greater happiness today than that they may find the spirit of Christmas with the joy of a child, and listen to its Voice with faith, hope and understanding in their hearts.