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December 21, 2022

Christmas 2022: The Peace of God…

Our purpose and focus are singularly defined in eternal principles.

“May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us in all our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.” —George Washington (1790)

Last Christmas, observing our 25th year of publishing online, I wrote a retrospective, “The Hand of Providence,” about some memorable Christmas messages over those years.

The title was inspired by George Washington’s trials at Valley Forge through the winter of 1777-78. Of the near-collapse of the Continental Army, he wrote, “It was much easier to draw up remonstrances in a comfortable room by a good fire-side, than to occupy a cold bleak hill, and sleep under frost and snow, without clothes or blankets.” If you’ve experienced bone-chilling cold in the wilderness, as I have as a young man climbing and camping in the darkness of distant mountains, you may have a trifling sense of how debilitating and demoralizing this would have been for General Washington and his men.

Just before Christmas, Washington issued general orders for “the day set apart” to “express our grateful acknowledgements to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us.”

Miraculously, his Continental Army survived that bleak winter, and as the tide of war was turning months later, Washington wrote, “The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.”

Sometimes in the bleakest of winters, we must take refuge in the hope distilled from faith that the Hand of Providence will always prevail, that tyranny is temporal while Liberty, which is “endowed by our Creator,” is eternal.

Years ago, one of my teenage children confided in me with a heavy heart that sometimes when he feels disconnected from God, that separation causes him to lose his bearing.

I acknowledged that, similarly, there have been seasons in my life when I have felt detached from God, and in those times I also struggle with questions about meaning, purpose, and direction.

I explained that what I have learned (at considerable personal cost) about being disconnected from God is that this separation is always the result of my looking to the world for meaning, purpose, and direction rather than to our Creator. Inevitably, after some period of discontent, I awaken to the reality that cultural compasses are irrevocably disorienting.

Contemporary culture relentlessly insists that we link our identity to its trappings — how much we have, what we have accomplished, the status of our peers, and the like. But all of these appurtenances are temporal. In the end, if we take our bearings from the culture around us, we are destined to experience emptiness, which is then filled with all manner of distractions and sedations.

I have advised all my children that through my life’s trials, I have learned we must look up before we look out — that we must look to God in order to understand His purpose for us in the world. Indeed, if we define our purpose in cultural terms, or worse, if we try to understand Him through the world’s lens, we are destined to remain astray.

When we are lost, the path back is paved with gratitude and service to others — the central message of the Gospel.

I have never wavered from that maxim, especially because for those of us called “to support and defend” the blessed inheritance of American Liberty, the battles are relentless, and our purpose and focus must be singularly defined in eternal principles.

Fortunately, those eternal principles are plainly evident in Scripture.

In this season of gratitude for the birth of Jesus, for context I invite you to read about the history of Christmas.

Brothers and Sisters, through this season, and every day of the coming year, may “the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

(A note about our Christmas message: Some of our readers are of faiths other than Christianity. We hope this message will serve to enlighten your understanding of our faith, as we wish God’s blessing and peace upon you and your families.)

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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