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What Have We Learned?

by Open-Publishing - Wednesday 4 January 2006
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Religions-Beliefs Monica Benderman

by Monica Benderman

Christmas comes but once a year. Why?

Maybe it is a reminder.

Churches are full on Christmas Eve. So many pay homage - listening to the story of Christmas. Year after year, children memorize the Christmas story, learn to point in the direction of the Star of Bethlehem, and surround a cradle full of hay to sing “Away in a Manger,” with hands folded sweetly to their chins.

The children grow and remember Christmas past as they watch their own child’s hands wrapped gently around the flickering light of one candle as “Silent Night” is softly echoed in a darkened sanctuary.

What have we learned?

A baby was born long ago, in a manger full of hay. His parents were not rich, but they loved each other and they loved their child. He was a child of God, a gift. God knew this couple would love their child, and so He trusted them to raise him well. This child grew, and lived his life the best he could. He learned from great teachers, and he walked the earth because he lived at a time when there was little other form of conveyance for a man of meager means. He loved, for he understood. He taught what he had learned, to all who would listen. He was a man of peace, for he knew that in the quiet of peace, the answers come. He understood that not all men saw as he did, and he was patient. He listened, and heard their fears, he watched them live and knew that if he could somehow show them not to be afraid, they, too, would find the peace he knew so well.

Men followed him, for they wanted what he had. Men revered him for the gifts he gave, and raised him to lofty heights for surely no man except a man of God could be so patient, so understanding, so kind, and so wise. Men praised him, and wrote stories about him. Before long, he was a hero. Everywhere he traveled people knew his name, and glorified him, and as the story grew, so did the image, but the man remained the same. He knew who he was. Just a man.

In time, he began to believe the stories, and he began to believe the power the stories gave through the idolatry of the men who followed him. When he needed it most, the peace he had felt, the patience that it offered, seemed to disappear and he too, became afraid. But in the silence that nature and time alone can give, he found himself again and knew that what was in his heart had never left him - it was he who had chosen not to see.

Humility returned as he remembered the gifts were only there as long as he realized in whose name they had been given.

Men feared him for the peace that surrounded him. Powerful men wanted to destroy him, for those who followed him seemed strengthened in themselves, and would not blindly follow the leaders of the day. The sins of man led to this man’s death. Fear - because this man lived in peace, and those who followed him did so without being threatened, coerced or bought. They followed him simply because he accepted them, walked with them, held their hand and listened - even when their differences were disfiguring, when they spoke in different languages, when they practiced different customs.

Somewhere tonight a child will be born. To his parents, this child will be a gift from God. A demonstration of God’s trust in them to raise the child well, to teach him to live in peace and to raise him to walk among men with humility, patience and consideration for all.

How is this child different than the one we honor in the manger? He is no different. He will have the same gifts given, and the same hopes shared. He will begin his life in the same simple way that all children are.

This child will be given teachers, he will have the opportunity to learn as he grows, and the chance to practice peace in his life.

He will be influenced by his world. Will it be a world of peace, a world where he can find the silence in which to learn to listen to his heart?

Will it be a world that will allow him to understand what he is given, and how to use these gifts? Will it be a world where he is accepted for who he is, someone who cares, who listens, who holds hands with those who are disfigured, who speak different languages, who practice different customs?

Will he learn the wisdom of moral courage when faced with threats from people who fear him?

If he does, will he be seen as an idol, someone to be revered and honored, someone elevated to such a standard that others will see him as a savior rather than just a man with enough faith in himself to live by his own beliefs? Will people look at his actions, and his life and walk away, afraid of what he is and the standard that he sets?

Will he remain strong in his principles, and humbled by the life he has been given?

Or will he forget where his gifts came from, and let the love of power, money, and fame interfere with the peace in his heart, and cause him to forget who he really is? Will his love of external trappings overshadow the real gifts, so that he becomes defensive and untrusting of anyone who does not think as he does? Will he allow material gains to define him, so that he lives in fear of their loss unmasking the shallow illusion of a man? Will he reach for security in the form of guns, chemical weapons, war; destroying anyone who threatens to reveal his weaknesses?

Every child born is no different than the child in the manger.

What have we learned?

Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, wrongfully imprisoned for his Conscientious Objection to war. Please visit their websites at www.BedermanTimeline.com and www.BendermanDefense.org to learn more about Kevin’s case.

Monica may be reached at mdawnb@coastalnow.net.

Forum posts

  • Beautifully put, Mrs. Benderman. I wish I could put such a truth in such a way. Thank you very much for doing it for me!