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Christmas 2014: Faith, Family and Work

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son …”

Looking around at our world today, this Christmas Day, do you think God ever regrets – even for a fleeting moment – giving us the Savior, the Word made Flesh?

After all, the history of mankind since the time of Christ seems an unending litany of human failings: war, despotic monarchs and strongmen, and genocide including the modern-day genocide against Christians, Jews and moderate Muslims in the Middle East. We live in a world where churches and synagogues are routinely bombed, burned and looted. Non-militants are executed en masse. Children are recruited as suicide bombers.

Here at home, meanwhile, our families, our kids and our values are under siege from the corrosive effects of all forms of media that glorify violence, materialism and promiscuity. Mindless murdering featured on video games and movies. Misogynistic music videos and lyrics. Vulgar t-shirts and TV shows. Smut running rampant on the Internet and smart phones. Everywhere you look, we are under constant assault by the forces of evil, intolerance, indulgence and selfishness.

No, when you look around at the world today, disappointment and disbelief can be all too common.

The Christmas story we celebrate today, then, stands in stark contrast as the single greatest act of love and hope that history will ever know – proof of God’s infinite mercy. Yet, what do we do with the true gift of Christmas?

If we look at our daily lives, are we worthy of the birth of the Christ child? Are we worthy of God’s love and redemption? Are we fearless in our faith, or are we sometimes weak like Peter was – and deny the light and the truth of Jesus Christ when put to the test? Who among us would have the strength, the courage, the grace of young Cassie Bernall, one of the Columbine High School martyrs, who stared into the face of evil, professed her faith in God, and paid the ultimate price?

This Christmas, we at Gallery Furniture are boldly recommitting ourselves to faith – to our faith in God, to our faith in each other, to our faith in the American Dream and American jobs and the American work ethic.

These things will never change.

Beyond the renewed promise of Salvation that comes to us this Christmas Day, we believe that faith makes freedom possible. Without a moral underpinning, without a citizenry that knows the difference between right and wrong and acts accordingly, this experiment in self-governance known as America simply cannot work.

You wouldn’t know it by reading today’s textbooks, but our Founding Fathers regularly quoted Scripture for inspiration as they debated and deliberated over the creation of a new Nation conceived in liberty. They regularly sought, and looking back surely received, Divine Intervention – the Hand of Providence guiding them through the perilous straits of independence.

The politically correct among us are uncomfortable with this simple reality, but we are here to proclaim: faith and freedom go hand-in-hand. They are two sides of the same coin.

At a time when cynical politicians and other opportunists try to turn Americans against each other, Gallery Furniture will also boldly reassert our faith in our families and in each other. We know strong families make for stronger communities. We believe in the innate decency and resilience of the American character that lies within each of us.

More than that, we also believe in the power of the neighbor-helping-neighbor spirit by which generations of Americans have persevered and thrived. Each of us can be a Point of Light, helping to lift the lives of our fellowman.

In fact, one of the great joys we experience at Gallery Furniture is the joy of giving back. The highlight of our year comes every Christmas, when thanks to our loyal customers we are able to help furnish homes for special families. Incredibly, this year we received applications and nominations from some 5,000 people. Those who participated helped us identify 30 truly worthy and needy families to help.

I’d like to tell you about one.

When Hurt Porter came home from Iraq in 2009, where he served as a U. S. Marine combat medic, he soon discovered that he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Like so many others, the war had followed him home.

But Hurt didn’t let PTSD debilitate or sideline him. “I decided to start focusing on making other people happy,” he explained. “I starting focusing on helping other vets dealing with PTSD, and seeing what I could do to help them – and as I did things to help them, I began to be helped as well.”

Hurt Porter exemplifies the best in the American spirit. He answered the call to duty – to serve a cause bigger than himself, to defend the freedom that too many take for granted. When faced with his own adversity, he didn’t turn inward or indulge in self-pity. He is striving to do better in his life, to make a difference in his community, and to set a strong example for his son.

And so it was our honor to help Hurt the same way has helped so many others. Merry Christmas, Hurt – and thank you (and your fellow veterans) for your selfless and inspiring service to America. Keep up the terrific work!

Finally, we at Gallery Furniture will rededicate ourselves to the American concept of the work ethic, for it is only through hard work and the blessings of God that dreams are realized, and businesses rise, and more American jobs are created.

The great American inventor Thomas Edison once observed: “The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work.” Success is never guaranteed in life, but the beauty of America is that we constantly strive to offer everyone a chance, an opportunity, to succeed. In America, we believe in equal opportunity. In the former Soviet Union, they believed in equal outcomes.

Which do you prefer?

Of course, 227 years after the adoption of our Constitution, we are still struggling and striving “to form a more perfect Union,” but it is only in America and free nations like her that entrepreneurialism can thrive. It takes freedom – the freedom to succeed, and to fail – to encourage people to take the kind of risks that create jobs and allow companies like ours to be active in the community helping others.

In fact, a few years ago I read that all the private, charitable giving that Americans from all walks of life do add up to more than the budgets at six or seven federal departments. Think about that. That’s the giving that government does NOT compel in the form of taxes or other fees – but rather, out of the goodness of our collective hearts.

When left to our best instincts and natural inclinations, we truly are a government “of the people, by the people, (and most importantly) for the people.” We the people rule; not government.

In sum, let all of us at Gallery Furniture wish you a very Merry Christmas, a safe and happy holiday season, and a prosperous New Year ahead filled with more acts of faith – in God Almighty, in each other, and in the dreams and the work ethic on which our future hopes and that of our children rest. Merry Christmas from Gallery Furniture!

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