10 years ago, I was called in on very short notice (I was composing in the car on the way) to pinch-hit a keynote address to a conference on homelessness in Vermont. I’m recalling that day on this Christmas Eve. I closed with this:
“We’re about to begin the season where something like a billion people around the world are going to celebrate the birth of a man who said that we should treat others as we would like to be treated; that we should not judge, lest we be judged; that we should love those who don’t like us; and that we should comfort those who suffer. He was also the guy who brought the best wine to a wedding reception, but that’s another story.
“And on the night he was born, he and his mother and father didn’t have a place to stay. So they spent that night in a barn.
“Now, you may not be one of those who embrace the religious institutions that have grown up based on this man’s life and beliefs, but even so, those ideas are a pretty decent framework for a good life and a good society. They are the basis of our work, and I want to thank you for the work that you are doing.
“Let us go now in peace together to serve our sisters and brothers.”