Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created 75 years ago by Robert May for a coloring book to promote Christmas sales for the Montgomery Ward Department Store in Chicago. 500,000 copies were passed out that Christmas season – – Rudolph was an immediate sensation. Robert May based his coloring book character on his own lonely childhood; he had always been an outcast.
That Christmas was a desperate time – – it was “The Great Depression”. Rejected and down on his luck, all Rudolph needed was someone to believe in him and offer him meaningful work. When Santa recognized his potential and gave him a chance … it was a dream come true! Rudolph proved his worth “one foggy Christmas Eve”, when the going was rough and the path was bleak. Everyone celebrated his special gift, a “very shiny nose”, which earlier had brought him only ridicule.
Recently, Ben Bernanke, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, said, “September and October of 2008 was the worst financial crisis in global history including the Great Depression.” When times are bleak, we recognize how we must atone for our excesses, restore a true sense of value, and sacrifice for the future we hope to realize. A Christmas Carol, “O Holy Night” sings, “… long lay the world in sin and error pining; until he [Christ] appeared and the soul found its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer recalls another story: On a cold, bleak winter night, our Savior, Jesus, was born in a manger. He was an outcast for whom no one had room. He was born at a bleak time when everyone thought their future was hopeless. Jesus recognizes peoples’ true worth in spite of their frailties and sins; Jesus shows us the way to prove ourselves in meaningful ways, even when the future is murky. Jesus’ sacrifice shows us we can be glorious!
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer shows We need to Shine! and We rejoice in a “New and Glorious Morn”