, Muskogee, OK

December 24, 2013

Celebrate Christmas with love

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!”

— Benjamin Franklin

Today we celebrate the greatest love story of all time.

It is not a story of romance. It is the story of a gift, the gift of a child.

Today we celebrate good tidings of great joy to all people.

Today we believe in peace on earth and good will toward all.

Today we celebrate a child who was born not into riches and glory but into a poor and simple family.

Today we celebrate the belief that God loves us enough to reach out to us, to lay aside power and majesty for humility and service, to offer humanity love, peace and mercy.

Today many of you will exchange gifts in your homes. Many of you will gather with family and friends.

Christmas has come to be a huge economic engine, the biggest retail driver of the year.

There is nothing wrong with commerce, and we all can enjoy getting and receiving gifts.

But please take a few moments to reflect on the story of love that the holiday celebrates. The story of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke is on the front page of the paper today. Read it.

Consider that this child grew up to be a man who said those who follow him would be known by the fact that they feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the stranger, visit the prisoner and care for the sick.

Consider the fact that the command he left was that we love one another with the same sacrificial love that he offered.

Go out and love each other today and you will truly celebrate Christmas.