Peace and goodwill define the Christmas season

Published 8:43 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Our View

The world is still a tumultuous place — fighting in Afghanistan and Syria; the transition of the presidency in the U.S.; violence in many American neighborhoods, not to mention the wintry weather that has played havoc with much of the nation in recent days.
The Christmas message is one of peace and goodwill. That message has always been contrasted with harsh conditions around the world. Even the story of Jesus’s birth, which Christians celebrate this season, is set in tumultuous times.
The child was born in a manger because Bethlehem was crowded with travelers and there was no other shelter. The wise men bearing gifts for the newborn were followed by a massacre of baby boys ordered by a jealous king. The biblical account describes “lamentation, weeping and great mourning” for those children.
Our times are no less turbulent. Right here close to home, scores of Gatlinburg residents lost their homes and businesses when a wildfire raced down the mountain earlier this month forcing people to evacuate and the tourist mecca to close for days. Not too far away a tornado raced through McMinn County, causing destruction. And, Tuesday there was a report of four children killed in a house fire in Springfield.
There is trouble all around us, not only at Christmas but every season of the year. There are needy people, hurting people, and lonely people and the holidays make the pain more intense. The holidays will be difficult for everyone who has lost someone this year and for those families with loved ones on far-away battlegrounds.
Still, there are many peacemakers among us, and for that, we should all be grateful. We are fortunate to have so many here who are devoted to making life a little easier for others.
No list could ever be comprehensive, but it is important this season to recognize some of those caring people.
Among the most basic needs this season and all year is food.
Hundreds of meals are prepared and served all year by Food for the Multitude, made up of a group of local churches who each Saturday take turns serving and handing out a wholesome and hot meal to those in need. Also, there are a number of churches who have food pantries and clothes closets, who feed the hungry and provide good warm clothing to those in need.
Among those who help the needy every day of the year in our community is Assistance Resource Ministry (ARM) and Hale Community Ministry, as well as the TLC Community Center which provides meals for children during the summer months.
This week, hundreds of families including children in the Carter County area received Christmas food baskets and toys because of the generosity of people in the community who opened up their billfolds and pocketbooks and shared with those less fortunate. Many adopted a child from an angel tree and provided gifts for that child. Others have contributed to the Salvation Army Red Kettle Fund, which will continue to receive donations right up to Christmas Day.
The giving spirit hasn’t only been directed at home. The devastating fire in Gatlinburg have moved Carter Countians to give and share of their resources to those who have lost everything they had in the wildfire. Some of our local firemen went to Gatlinburg to help with the firefighting.
In 1998 when Carter County suffered a deadly blow from flooding, volunteers came to help and give. So it is only natural to feel a kinship with others who are suffering a great tragedy.
But empathy is one thing. Taking the step to actually help someone else in need is the true spirit of the season.

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