Thursday, December 22, 2016

Celebrating Miracles: Hope, Light and Joy

This year both Christmas Eve and the beginning of Hanukkah fall on the same day. One celebrating the miracle of God’s grace in providing light and hope to His people. The other celebrating the miracle of God’s own son’s birth, the light of the world bringing hope to the world. These two celebrations have overlapped only 4 times in the last 100 years. I believe that this being one of those years is no accident.

It would be an understatement for me to say that 2016 has been difficult and painful in many ways for all the people of this world. Whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim or of no religious affiliation, you felt the weight of hatred and violence. The media has drowned us in the horrors of hate crimes, terrorism and war. Countries are divide against each other and themselves. Hate mongers have been spewing their doctrines in an effort to make us fearful and mistrust one another. Innocent people have been slaughtered. It feels like hate is winning. It’s made many of us afraid for the future.

However, If we look past our fear, we will see the unreported rise of goodness, the speckles of miracles and light. People who are working tirelessly, in war-torn countries and in disaster areas to help the suffering, others feeding the poor and needy. People reaching out to other cultures in peace as an extended family. We may not be able to join those working on the world’s stage, but we can make a difference in our own communities. 

We can seek first to be kind to everyone around us. We can open our hearts and strive to understand each other’s feelings and life experiences. We can cut each other some slack in stressful times. We can build relationships based on the things we agree on, exhibit patience with one another and stand up to hate and violence. We can connect with an organization that serves a benevolent cause. Support them with our time or financially. 

Every faith tradition in the world is based on the same premise: treat others as we would want to be treated. They may use different words, but the message is the same. It is time to let those words reverberate in our hearts again and live them.

You may feel as I do—glad this year has come to an end. I’m especially grateful that it ends with celebrations that reminds us of miracles, hope, light and joy. 

Last night at my church, people from the three major faith communities gathered to celebrate the Longest Night for the Children of Abraham. We sang a song that said: How good it is and how lovely for all to dwell together. Hiney ma tov sheved achim gam yachad. I plan to hold these worlds in my heart. 

May the memories of the miracles of this season transform us into the kind, just and hopeful people we are called to be.