What follows is my traditional Christmas message at the annual Ambassador Solutions Christmas Party. This year, the party was held the evening of Friday, December 14 at The Montage banquet facility on Indy’s north side.
Thank you for joining us in what has become my favorite tradition at Ambassador Solutions –our annual Christmas party. This would have been party #19, but we canceled our party plans in 2000, so it’s actually #18. You may recall, the first year of the new millennium found us digging out from under the rubble left behind by the “dot bombs” that had burst upon the entire IT industry. Those were dark and difficult days, but I’ll be forever grateful for the way God so miraculously provided for the re-building of our company. And, I confess, I will always regret having canceled the Christmas party that, more than ever, we should have held in His honor.
Speaking of bombs bursting, it’s been almost sixty years since the German warplanes relentlessly dropped their bombs upon our English allies. In the midst of those dark and difficult days, the BBC turned to a distinguished pipe smoking, beer swilling professor from Oxford University. They asked C.S. Lewis to lay out the basic tenets of the Christian faith in a series of radio broadcasts that could be easily understood by the average un-churched layperson. By so doing, their hope was to give hope to English men and women who witnessed the destruction of their country on a daily basis. And then, having secured a most costly victory, to give their countrymen much-needed strength as they began the monumental task of re-building their beloved England. Lewis’ messages were so well received, that they were put into book form. Millions of copies later, Mere Christianity became one of the most influential Christian books of the 20th century. I was among those so influenced.
In October, Elaine and I visited England for the first time. We were thrilled to visit Oxford University and to stand where the Harry Potter character once stood, not to mention having the opportunity to meet the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. But, our biggest thrill came later that night, as we raised a pint in honor of C.S. Lewis at The Angel & Child pub where his literary group known as The Inklings regularly gathered during World War 2. You’ve probably heard of another famous member of that group —Lord of the Rings author, J.R.R. Tolkien. Indeed, more so than Oprah’s today, this little bar room book club truly changed the world.
But, what about your world…today? Are you experiencing dark and difficult days? Are you struggling to dig out from the rubble of bombs bursting over your relationships?…your family?…your health?…your finances?…your job? Are you in need of strength to re-build your life, in hopes that next time you’ll be better able to withstand the relentless assaults of the enemy? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions (and don’t we all have our dark days?), then tonight I want to encourage you in three simple ways:
1. You are not alone. You have much company even in this room, so I encourage you to meet as many fellow guests as you can and to share something beyond the weather and the Colts with one another;
2. If you’d like to know the true meaning of the first Christmas, then I encourage you to give yourself a copy of Mere Christianity this Christmas…and read it, as I did for the first time in 1975;
3. No matter what your current circumstances, the message of the first Christmas and every one thereafter is simply this–there is always hope. So I encourage you to be hopeful, no matter what. And know that it is our fond hope that tonight you will join us in rejoicing and enjoying this celebration, as evidence that God did indeed so love the world…and so loves you.
And now for our traditional Taittinger toast:
Here’s to God’s best for you and yours this Christmas and to a great 2008!