Spreading Christ’s message of peace

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Monday, December 23, 2013

If you open your eyes to the possibilities, evidence of the “Prince of Peace” is all around you.

You could see it Dec. 14 when 175 volunteers took time out of their busy holiday schedules to pack and deliver food to 350 families after the Janesville School District topped its goal of raising $40,000 in the annual Bags of Hope. General Motors and United Auto Workers Local 95 started this outreach project in the 1980s, and the district took it over when GM closed its Janesville factory five years ago.

You could see it among supporters of Operation Ooh-Rah, who gathered at the Beloit VFW Hall to pack boxes with food, toiletries, candy and other items to deliver in time for Christmas to U.S. soldiers stationed overseas.

You could see it in Slumberland Furniture, which donated 25 bedding sets and 18 mattresses to nonprofit organizations as part of its Homes for the Holidays program.

You could see it Dec. 18 during the Salvation Army’s annual Toys for Tots distribution in Janesville. Many parents who chose toys and clothes for their children are among the working poor—earning too much to qualify for welfare benefits but too little to provide many extras for their families this Christmas.

You could see it as YWCA employees and volunteers decorated the Y’s domestic violence shelter, making the holidays a little brighter for women and children who have fled abusive homes.

You could see it in Erin Kloepping and Sarah Strathman, who again raised money to buy and deliver gifts for people in area assisted-living and nursing homes, as the Brodhead High School juniors have done for six years.

You could see it in the live outdoor nativity display hosted last weekend at Cargill United Methodist Church in Janesville, and you’ll see it Tuesday evening and Wednesday as thousands of residents in our communities don their holiday finest and stream into churches and chapels to celebrate.

After all, for Christians among us, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ, the Messiah. We run around in this hectic holiday season and often overspend while trying to make up for spending too little time with loved ones or to make amends for harsh words. Santa and his reindeer, decorated homes and bountiful food are all well and good, but showing care and compassion to families, friends, neighbors and those less fortunate is what Christmas is all about.

The Prince of Peace delivered that message more than 2,000 years ago. On this Christmas, set aside conflict and spread peace, tolerance and understanding among those who are like us and those who are different—believers and nonbelievers alike.

Merry Christmas.

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