For me the central message of the Christmas story is that we are to live in peace and welcome the stranger. We are challenged to examine the way we live with ourselves, our families and friends, our neighbors and all we encounter. We are encouraged to enlarge our circle to include other nations, people of all races, cultures, sexual orientation, ages and creeds, and, in general, to appreciate and welcome diversity. We also are to live in peace with our planet earth. We are to care for it, love it, respect it and keep it healthy and nourished for the next generation.
The last verse of the above mentioned hymn has the words: “Then God shall be as a shepherd, the lambs gathered to God’s breast; and pastures of peace shall greet them, to give to the weary rest.” May we find ways to make this Advent and Christmas time a gift of peace to everyone.