And the angel said to them, Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all the people:
For today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; who is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign to you: You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people of good will."
Today is Christmas Day and in these turbulent times, we are in desperate need of some good news. As we approach the end of 2015, it seems increasingly difficult to find peace on earth. With constant news of terrorism, especially after the horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, many people are on edge. They are worried and confused about the future. They feel insecure and frightened. These are definitely challenging times.and peace on earth often resembles a distant and elusive dream. In the early 21st century, humanity is suffering from many scourges, terrorism and climate change among the most serious of them.
Thankfully, Christmas provides us with an opportunity to look beyond all the bleakness in the world. The Star of Bethlehem radiates light in the midst of all this darkness, as do the candles on a Hanukkah menorah. It offsets the savagery of ISIS and the ravages of climate change.
It's no coincidence that so many classic Christmas songs were composed during World War II when the greatest scourge was Nazism. During those dark days, there was a longing for home and hearth during the Christmas season. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "White Christmas." for example, were both written during the war years. The lyrics to those songs are sentimental for very good reason. Who wouldn't be hungering to be with family and friends while in a faraway war zone, never knowing whether you would return home alive or in one piece.
Despite all the suffering, poverty, war and degradation in the world, Christmas offers good news and hope. The word "gospel" is the Old English word for "good news" or "glad tidings. It is derived from the Greek word euangelion (eu- "good", -angelion "message"). Nothing is gained, however, by wearing rose-coloured glasses. The problems of this world will not disappear easily or overnight. It takes hard work and a unity of purpose. At Christmas, though, anything seems possible.
On December 12, 2015, the world was blessed with a wonderful Yuletide gift. The good news came from Paris, France, the same city that was targeted by terrorists almost a month earlier, on November 13th, At a crucial United Nations climate change conference in Paris, nearly 200 countries adopted he first global pact to reduce greenhouse gases and to avoid the most severe effects of global warming. The sheer scope of the landmark agreement is historic and unprecedented. That alone is cause for rejoicing. To have so many nations in agreement to anything is utterly remarkable. It's truly a Christmas miracle.
U.S. President Barack Obama praised the climate initiative, describing it as "the best chance we have to save the one planet that we've got." while United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon hailed the agreement as "a health insurance policy for the planet." Although the Paris accord has been criticized for falling short on specifics, the agreement still stands as a major triumph in a worldwide effort to protect our environment. There is always room for improvement and much work still needs to be done, but the basic agreement is a tremendous achievement, a huge step in the right direction. Of course, it will never satisfy everyone, especially the Flat Earth Society of climate change deniers. Christmas, however, is not a time for unnecessary nay saying. It is a time for joy.
|Climate change agreement in Paris|
Christmas full moon for first time since 1977
This year, for the first time since 1977, there will be a full moon at Christmas. The last full moon of 2015 will be at its fullest at 6:11 a.m. Eastern Time on Christmas Day. As a habitual moon gazer, I am looking forward to it. After all, the next Christmas full moon is not expected until the year 2034.
Note: There will be a full moon on December 26th (Boxing Day) in 2017.
A joyful holiday season to you and your family. Merry Christmas from Number 16.
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