A Christmas Message
from HSLDA President J. Michael Smith
Greetings to our member families and friends of homeschooling everywhere!
On behalf of all of our co-laborers here at HSLDA, I want to wish you and your family a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Thank you for partnering with us to protect the precious God-given liberty to direct the education of our children at home. We feel truly blessed to be able to labor along with you to preserve this inalienable right to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Many of you know that our home office is in Purcellville, Virginia, 50 miles from our nation's capitol. It is truly a blessing to live so close to the seat of our government and be immersed in the history of our nation. It's exciting and inspiring to be able to visit the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, our nation's capitol, and the Washington Monument all on the same day!
Another key historical site in Washington, DC, is the White House, and an important annual event that takes place there is the lighting of our nation's Christmas tree. It's a tradition that was just celebrated for the 75th year in a row. Following the tree-lighting ceremony, the celebration culminates with a speech by the President of the United States. All of our nation's presidents since Calvin Coolidge in 1928 have participated in this event.
A book called "Season's Greetings from the White House" sets forth some of the speeches that our presidents have given at this festive occasion.
I was so encouraged that in these speeches almost every president recognized the real meaning of Christmas, beginning with the birth of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. For example, in 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt ended his speech by reciting the Beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. He then urged our nation to pray that we may live closer to the words of the Sermon on the Mount and that these words would thereby reach into the hearts of all men and of all nations.
In reading these speeches, I've especially gained a new respect for President Harry S. Truman. Of all those presidents who have delivered speeches in these 75 years, he and President Ronald Reagan were the most unashamed in their use of biblical references to Jesus Christ and His redemptive power. President Truman concluded his speech in 1945 with these words:
"With our enemies vanquished, we must gird ourselves for the work that lies ahead. Peace has its victories no less hard won than success at arms. We must not fail or falter. We must strive without ceasing to make real the prophecy of Isaiah, 'They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.'
In this day, whether it be far or near, the kingdoms of this world shall become indeed the Kingdom of God and He will reign forever and ever, Lord of Lords and King of Kings."
In his final message in 1952, President Truman had the audacity to conclude his speech with the following:
"Now, my fellow countrymen, I wish for all of you a Christmas filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and many years of future happiness with the peace of God reigning upon this earth."
President Ronald Reagan in every one of his speeches at the lighting of the tree, proclaimed the true meaning of Christmas going back to the birth, life, and redemptive purpose of Jesus Christ. In 1983, President Reagan compares Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with Reagan's favorite story, "One Solitary Life." President Reagan indicates that "One Solitary Life" describes the true meaning of Christmas. Two paragraphs were especially powerful in that speech:
"'While [Jesus Christ was] still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed on a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for the only piece of property that he had on earth. When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.
'Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone. And today he's the centerpiece of much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon earth as powerfully as this one solitary life.'
I've always believed that the message of Jesus is one of hope and joy. I know there are those who recognize Christmas Day as the birthday of a great and good man, a wise teacher who gave us principles to live by. And then there are others of us who believe that he was the Son of God, that he was divine. If we live our lives for truth, for love, and for God, we never need be afraid. God will be with us and He will be part of something much larger, much more powerful and enduring than any force here on earth."
I was inspired by the great words of these presidents. There are many more things that I would like to say to you at this time, but I would like to close with two thoughts and a challenge.
First, almost every president over these 75 years in these Christmas speeches has connected the blessings of our nation to our acknowledgement of and our faith and our trust in God. America has been blessed because we have adopted the righteous laws of God and the principles derived from those laws. Our continued blessing is directly dependent upon continued acknowledgement of, adherence to, and trust in God's natural law and written revelation.
But, there is a battle today between those of us who believe this statement and those who reject it. Our nation will remain good if God's people will be faithful to pray, repent, and stand up for righteousness. But, it will require a stand. Just as we have stood against the state when it tried to deny us the freedom to teach our children at home, we will have to stand against those who are attempting to remove God and His standards from all public life in America.
Secondly, just like President Reagan pointed out in all of his Christmas speeches, we must remember the true meaning of Christmas that can be summarized in one wordóJesus. Jesus Christ brings salvation to the world. He is the fulfillment of John 3:16: "For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Whether one believes in this truth or not will determine the eternal destiny of every soul that has ever been born. One day, every eye shall see Him and every tongue shall confess Him as Lord.
The challenge for those of us who believe this truth is to now follow Him. Jesus is love. Therefore, for 365 days a year and until the end of time, let us reach out to every person with His love. Let us share the blessing that we have received from God with others. Let us offer not only our hearts and prayers, but a generous hand to those that need our help. Let's lift up the broken hearted and bind up those with wounds. Beginning first with our immediate family, God's family and those whom He brings across our path.
Joy to the world, the Lord has come! May He bless you and our nation with His love and His peace this holiday season!
J. Michael Smith
President of HSLDA