I was in the ninth grade on Christmas Eve, 1968, so I remember it well.
It had not been a good year. Martin Luther King was murdered earlier in the year, as was Robert Kennedy. And 16,592 members of the U.S. military were killed in Vietnam in 1968.
Lots of despondency hung in the air.
And then, on Christmas Eve, something incredible happened. In front of TV screens around the world, we all sat, transfixed as three men became the first humans to orbit the moon. And then, as they beamed back video signals of the first “earth rise” ever witnessed by human beings, they read from a 400-year-old Anglican translation of the creation story considered sacred by the world’s Muslims, Jews and Christians:
1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
1:7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
1:9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
1:10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
1:11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
1:12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Like 1968, the year 2008 will be remembered for its great challenges.
My prayer for us this Christmas is that despite those challenges, we can still find a way to view the world with wonder and amazement — and to have the faith to know that if we work together, we can still make it good.