After all that has transpired throughout the past year—an ugly, divisive campaign, wars, terrorism, mass murder, etc.—it’s easy to take a dim view of humanity. It’s easy to echo the sentiment of the narrator in Longfellow’s poem, turned Christmas carol “I Hear the Bells on Christmas Day”:
And in despair I bowed my head ;/ “There is no peace on earth,” I said;/ “For hate is strong, and mocks the song/ Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Just last week, a group of five teenagers allegedly stole an outdoor nativity set from the lawn of Shiloh United Methodist Church, just outside of Lynchburg, after “getting bored” at a friend’s birthday party. The teens then posted pictures on Facebook posing with the figurines and holding bottles of alcohol.
They then destroyed the 40-plus year-old figurines. Only one lamb survived the incident. Church officials estimate the figurines were valued at approximately $2,000. (The accused teens have since been arrested.)
“…[H]ate is strong, and mocks the song/ Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then, a Christmas miracle, of sorts: a church member drove past the church and discovered a new set of figurines in the formerly empty stable. Tucked beneath Baby Jesus, in a hay-lined manger, was a note from a “concerned citizen”:
The note offered condolences for the missing nativity scene and read in part, “This display is nowhere near as nice as the one you had but I guess it’s the thought that counts.”
The author didn’t leave a name, but indicated a relative is a member of the church.
Kindness from a stranger…maybe humanity isn’t such a lost cause. After all, if we were, there wouldn’t have been a Christmas in the first place.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:/ “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;/ The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,/ With peace on the earth, good-will to men.”