The story being celebrated by Christians this season is that a long time ago a baby was born to a poor carpenter and his young wife. The lived in a small town in the area of the Mideast known as Galilee. The couple were traveling at the time, and, there being no space left in any inn, the baby was born in a barn, surrounded by farm animals. The baby would grow to shake his world with a message which was the very essence of the Judaic religion into which he had been born but which, oddly enough, drove the institutional leaders of that religion to see him and his message as a threat so serious that they would ultimately seek to have him killed.
The man was not a revolutionary. He was, rather, what might truly be called a fundamentalist. He insisted that the core message of the religion into which he was born must be served above all, and that everything else, all the rules and rites and institutional trappings of that religion, made sense only insofar as they served that core message.
As it turns out, the message was not just at the heart of that great religion, Judaism, but was also the core message of all the great religious figures of human history. The message is exceedingly simple: Love one another. By that, the man meant that all our meaning, all our value, all our significance, all our worth lies in being responsible for every human being we encounter.
What an odd message to be killed for. And yet that death has been repeated around the world for all these thousands of years. There remains in the world that same fear, and perhaps even hatred, of that simple message, a fear and hatred so strong that the murderers pervert the very message and so kill even in the name of that very man whose birth the Christians celebrate.
Here is a thought and a hope and a dream. Suppose that everyone followed that simple message. Suppose that all human beings sought only to make sure that they were doing as much as possible to see that the others in their lives were honored and served. There would indeed be joy, and that joy would be in this very world.
It is a dream, of course, and we will wake up to a world that does its best to drain us of that joy. Just for this moment, I give myself the hope that all humans would hear this message that all humans know is where their real meaning lies. I give myself that hope, and I send that wish to all of you. I wish you real joy, real peace, real meaning.