December 21st, 2011
06:29 PM ET
The mad dash to buy last minute Christmas presents is about at its peak. Shoppers rush around, their eyes glaze over. No words are exchanged but the message is clear, what can I find? What will it cost? Will they like this?
The president of the United States joined the throngs just days before Christmas with an unannounced stop at a local Best Buy to purchase Just Dance 3, a Wii game. “This is for the girls,” he said.
Retailers are banking on the holiday season to polish an otherwise dismal year in an economy that is struggling at best.
President Obama, who has delayed his Christmas getaway to Hawaii to join his family, is fighting with Congress to create jobs and ease the pressure on the unemployed, but there’s a lot of partisan bickering.
However, take a step away from all the political noise and listen.
Do you hear what I hear?
Christmas carols echo through packed malls, and radio stations that typically rock the house are rocking around the Christmas tree.
This is also the time of year where the names Bethlehem and Nazareth are uttered in songs and sermons.
Bethlehem is where Christians believe Jesus was born more than 2000 years ago. Nazareth is the Biblical town where he grew up. As the story is told, Mary and Joseph traveled over several days to Bethlehem where the “no vacancy” sign was lit up everywhere except at a stable. Manger scenes the world over provide a Polaroid shot if you will of that historic event.
The two towns are linked in a prophetic moment that centuries later inspired the names of two other towns thousands of miles away in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
Nazareth, PA was founded by German immigrants in 1740. They were Protestants who had “no room in the Inn” for outside faiths. Non-protestants were not allowed to purchase property in that community, according to accounts of the towns history.
Bethlehem, PA, a few miles away, was founded by a small group of Moravians who had a member’s only policy too when it came to leasing plots of land.
Perhaps there are lessons to be learned of tolerance, respect, even compromise, from the history of those two U.S. towns.
Nazareth and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania have opened their arms since those days when religious differences dictated whose name could be on a deed.
A large Christmas star shines year round atop a mountain overlooking Bethlehem, a town that was once home to the Bethlehem Steel company.
Whether it’s Republicans and Democrats throwing punches in-between singing Joy to the World, or a polarizing comment shouted from a yard decorated with festive lights, the season of hope and forgiveness provides an opportunity for self examination.
It shouldn’t take a Christmas miracle to shake politicians from unbending views. In this season of gift giving maybe they’ll deliver Americans something that doesn’t come neatly wrapped in a large box: Jobs, a better economy, and a will to compromise.
Too bad that gift can’t be found at a local Best Buy.