AS WE gather this week with our families and friends amidst a spirit of peace, love and reconciliation -- far removed from the realities that have plagued us -- we marvel at the miracles of the season -- people helping people they ignore during the rest of the year.
Certainly the Christmas season stands out as the most Christian time of the year -- a time when we seem most able to truly follow the teachings of Christ.
We've heard more than one minister wonder how it might be possible to capture these feelings of good will so they might be utilized throughout the year. Even the best Christians among us -- or the best Jews or best Mulims or best humanists -- remain but frail humans too often more concerned with our own self interests than with what is right for the world. Often the best we can manage is to protect and nurture our own children, with little energy left for other children who struggle by without protection or nurturing.
WHILE THE MANY shortcomings of the human race create tragedy and misfortune at every turn, the spirit of Christmas points out just how good we humans might be if only we could truly dedicate ourselves to such goodness.
Perhaps it's too easy to act in a Christian manner during Christmas time. The rewards appear too quickly. The real deal comes during the January freeze, after the celebration ends and the bills come due. But if you look closely, the spirit can appear then as well.
After all, it's not that the spirit isn't there during the long, cold nights of January, but only that we spend less time looking for it after the holiday ends.
The real miracle of Christmas appears not in the joy of celebration but in how much the spirit of Christ we take with us into the dark, dreary winter that follows the holiday.