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Over 40 years ago, President Ronald Reagan gave his first Christmas address. When Reagan stepped into office, the national spirit was low.
The U.S. was experiencing some of the worst economic turmoil since the Great Depression – with high taxes, record levels of unemployment and spiraling interest rates. The world was also in the midst of the Cold War, with many countries fighting for the freedoms held by Americans.
With fears of an economic recession and tensions across the U.S. due to the wars in Israel and Ukraine, there are many truths from Reagan’s address that are relevant today.
First, Reagan shared the importance of caring for one another.
He said, “Yes, we’ve questioned why he who could perform miracles chose to come among us as a helpless babe, but maybe that was his first miracle, his first great lesson that we should learn to care for one another.“
America needs more people who genuinely care for and look after one another. We have our differences, and news outlets will tell us that we are more divided now than ever.
Let’s not forget that our nation was founded by individuals who came from different political backgrounds. They put aside disagreements to form a nation where everyone had the freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Our differences should never take away from our ability to love and respect one another. This is clearly demonstrated in Jesus’ life, as He cared for those around Him, and even those that society deemed insignificant.
Reagan discussed the value of trusting in God.
He said, “At times our footsteps may have faltered, but trusting in God’s help, we’ve never lost our way.”
Just as Reagan said, we must continue to trust in God. Many of America’s early colonies were founded by men and women who fled the oppression of the British government as they refused to compromise on their religious convictions and beliefs.
The statement “In God We Trust” became a pillar for our nation. It was inscribed on our currency. And it became our country’s first official motto in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law.
In America’s darkest moments – through the Civil War, two World Wars and the Cold War – she turned to God. It often seems as if the government desires to remove God by posing threats to religious freedoms.
Yet, in times of weakness and despair, God can be America’s source of strength. As Psalm 27:1 tells us, God is our light and source of strength in times of trouble.
Reagan reminded us of the obligation to the heritage of liberty.
Reagan continued, “Let those candles remind us that these blessings bring with them a solid obligation, an obligation to the God who guides us, an obligation to the heritage of liberty and dignity handed down to us by our forefathers and an obligation to the children of the world…”
The obligation to liberty isn’t an easy endeavor.
It means standing up against the government when it imposes regulations or proposes laws against the Constitution. It requires taking legal action, peacefully protesting, being involved in local government and letting our voices be heard.
In the midst of oppression and adversity, we can’t let the light of liberty be extinguished – even if it requires going against the grain.
Finally, Reagan ended by expressing how Christmas means so much because of one special child and reminds us that all children are special.
He said, “But Christmas also reminds us that all children are special, that they are gifts from God, gifts beyond price that mean more than any presents money can buy. In their love and laughter, in our hopes for their future lies the true meaning of Christmas.”
In Jesus’ ministry, He showed the significance and the value of children. Jesus told us in Mark 10:14 that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to children.
Children are the present and the future of our nation. Everything we have built, fought for and accomplished lies in their hands.
And, in everything we do, from financial decisions to legislation, we think not of the present, but of the future it will create for generations to come. We must ensure there is a better future for them that preserves financial stability and the freedoms we are privileged to have today.
This Christmas, let us remember the birth of our Savior – which brought us hope through salvation – and the example He set for us to follow. When we encounter economic hardships and threats to freedom, may we persevere by knowing America has been through similar times.
And, let us also be grateful for the freedoms we have today and work toward ensuring those for generations to come.