Celebrating the Lights: An Interfaith Christmas Reflection
December 8, 2020
The reflection below was a part of Christ / Covid / Christmas – an online event sponsored by Church Anew, featuring Bishop Michael Curry, Diana Butler Bass and others. You can watch the entire program here.
During this holy time of preparation for the light of God to shine in our world and in our spirits, I invite you to remember that you, that me, that none of us are born to be a child of God alone. During this advent, we do not wait in our isolated buildings, in our private spaces, in our individual souls. For our very own Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the innkeeper, the thousands of sojourners – none of them were children of God, alone. Jesus, born in Bethlehem, surrounded by people from every walk of life, of every tribe, of every faith, was not the child of God, alone. Rather, what made Jesus the Christ is that he saw children of God wherever he looked. Jesus, the anointed one, could see each person with the innate spark of the Divine. Jesus, the great light born into the world, did not come to outshine, did not come to the blind, was not born to extinguish other lights, but rather Jesus gave us the vision to see the Great Light of the Divine in ourselves and each other and to shine together.
In our time of the pandemic, strife, division, denigration, and even hatred between people, we Christians must not succumb to the sin of using Jesus as a pawn in a competition, we must not weaponize our savior, or use our faith to vanquish. Instead, as we raise lights on Christmas Eve, let them be an invitation to expand our Spirits and join with other lights to illuminate a world that is tormented by the shadows of fear and despair. May those of us who seek to follow the way of Jesus, keep our eyes opened wide to the wondrous ways that God’s light shines through the sacred fires coming from our neighbors’ Spiritual homes.
This Advent, this Christmas, look up! Look around. Look just down the street, at how our Jewish neighbors are lighting candles too, in observance of Hanukkah, our Hindu neighbors are lighting the Diwali candles, and our Muslim neighbors have lights up to celebrate Eid. Our Pagan friends are celebrating the returning of the light with Solstice, and our Humanist friends raise the light of reason.
American Civic Life
Personally, I come from an interfaith family. My closest cousins are Jewish, and I have friends who celebrate every tradition as well as those who observe none. I love them all. I am better because of them. And when I join them in their religious rituals as their guest, I am struck by the joy, wonder, and sacredness that flows through them. They bring light to my soul. Think, now, of all your beloved friends from different traditions and give thanks for each of them, they are a blessing from God, each one here as a teacher to remind us that we are, none of us, a child of God alone.
Give thanks this Christmas that Jesus was born, to offer great light to the world. And also give thanks that we are blessed in this country, and in this world by having so many sources of light, all of which help our vision, all of which are ways of seeing our beautiful world. The light shines, as through prism and, as we turn it, and marvel at the different colors, the richness of the different traditions, each with the wisdom, the truth that none of us are alone, none of us is a solitary child of God – the truth, that we need each other, and that we celebrate one another, looking forward to the day coming soon when we can again safely embrace and walk arm in arm together.
May this Advent and Christmas be a time of an opening, a rekindling, a reacquaintance with the Great light of God as known through Jesus. As well as a time of unclenching of the fist, the extending the hand, the opening of the heart, of the making space and making a way for the Divine light to bring people from every background together in the Beloved Community where there is a beautiful diversity of light, a common language of love and an affirmation that we are all Children of God together. May your Christmas be blessed and a blessing to the whole world.