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For most people in our barely civilized world, the new year starts after the expiring old year with the waning tones of “Auld Lang Syne” very early in the anti meridiem of Jan.1, 2017. For a majority of voters in the United States, the new year started Nov. 8 and it remains to be seen what kind of year it will turn out to be.

Christmas, however, affects everyone in our Western culture even if you’re not a Christian. It’s a time of peace and good will toward humankind, if not in the world, then at least maybe some fleeting moment in our heart. Many years ago when I lived in Dayton, I asked my friend and neighbor, a Conservative Jewish rabbi, if the culture seemed any different around Christmas and he said it did, that there truly was a feeling of harmony in the air.

As Christians, I don’t think we understand how obnoxious and threatening we can be at times. We don’t often practice what Jesus tried to teach us. We go to church and recite memorized passages from the Bible, hymnal, prayer book, whatever, but do we believe it? I don’t think so. Look around, listen to what’s going on. It seems to me most Christians have forgotten lesson number one. Pope John Paul II wrote a book about it. He titled it “Be Not Afraid.” Fear is the basis for so much of the world’s troubles, that and hormones. We’ll talk about THAT on Valentine’s Day.

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