By Stephen C. Schultz
The smell of onions is strong in the air. Christmas music is playing in the background. The voices of my daughters upstairs are discussing the appropriate application of makeup and how they will do their hair.
This is the morning time experience I am living through at this time. My wife is busy in the kitchen making some cheesy broccoli soup for after church today. Two of my daughters are in the bathroom upstairs, laughing, joking and getting ready for church. All the while, the sounds of "Winter Wonderland", "Jingle Bells", "Silent Night" and "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" are playing in the background.
I was having a conversation with my daughter Amanda this morning about an article I read the other day. It discussed how some families are boycotting giving presents at Christmas. Some parents were mentioning that their children simply had no gratitude anymore. Some families were implementing a Christmas tradition of exchanging the “gift giving” for time and experiences spent with loved ones. In other words, they are forgoing the tradition of giving gifts and scheduling time throughout the year to spend with loved ones involved in activities that foster relationships and family cohesion.
Please excuse me at this time as I am being summoned by the rest of the family to come get in the car...It’s time for church!
Now that my family and I have returned home, please allow me to share some additional thoughts and insight. The church service today was much like every church service I have attended that happens to be just prior to Christmas. Sitting next to my daughter Emma, there were songs by the choir that included “Angles We Have Heard on High”, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. There was reading from the New Testament in Lukechapter 2 and other poems and songs performed by members of the congregation.
What struck me this particular Sunday, was the sense of community and family. For Christians, recognizing the birth of the Savior is paramount and is what Christmas is all about. For other world religions, I can only assume that a belief in God brings about a similar sense of community and family.
What I have witnessed happening today is the expression of kindness to others, caring compassionate communication between members of the community and neighbors reaching out to neighbors in charitable ways. Simply stated, people are demonstrating the Christ like principles of Faith, Hope and Charity. Maybe someday...it will last all year long!