Each year on Christmas Day since 1949, an article entitled In Hoc Anno Domini penned by Vermont Royster, editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, has appeared. Royster lived to be 82, received two Pulitzer’s and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (and most of all was a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - Go Tar Heels!) During World War II, he was one of the first to witness the aftermath associated with the dropping of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, an experience which would shape the rest of his adult life.
I’ve attached his Christmas musing knowing that many of you have read it previously over the years. It can be a hopeful reminder that our faith transcends political and cultural ideologies and times, providing a solid foundation for us whatever we face, personally or culturally. And, for me, this faith is not merely personally comforting, but provides a roadmap shaping how we think and what we do. This is why John Newton and William Wilberforce’s reading of the Bible impelled them to labor tirelessly for a half century to persuade Parliament to declare slavery wrong and illegal despite powerful forces to the contrary. The same could be said about other brave souls around the world today who have taken on challenging causes, whether they be human trafficking or child labor. Faith provides the engine to fight against any wrong, however large or small. So, our faith and theology should always be in ‘conversation’ with our time yet never a slave to it. The theologian Karl Barth urged that we have the Bible on one knee and the newspaper on the other. Faith is certainly relevant for life’s issues, but also transcends them.
So how do I view Christmas? Amazingly! The fact that God would enter human history to bring peace to our hearts and to our world is timely, inspiring and so utterly cool. The message and reality never get old! Rejoice...Immanuel...God is with us and will never forsake us!
This is a quick note I wanted to shoot off. I also should say that I realize that some of you receiving this might not agree with how I view my faith in respect to the broader world. I long for a world where we can live with differences and not have to destroy others with whom we disagree. I still love the credo on our coin: e pluribus unum...out of many, one. My faith inspires me to want to engage with others even when I disagree with their thinking or approach.