Even though I am usually pretty strict about “It’s not Christmas yet – it’s Advent!”, I had a very “Christmassy” week:
Muslim friends offered donations of Christmas pajamas and canned goods, wanting to help people in need have a happy Christmas. One of them also purchased a gift for our dove tree, organized by Northborough Helping Hands, collecting gifts for local families who cannot afford to purchase their own. I was deeply humbled and moved by their generosity, contributing to a religious holiday they do not celebrate.
Last Saturday, I was part of an Interfaith Celebration called “Light!” at Congregation B’nai Shalom in Westborough. Representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Unitarian-Universalist and Christian faiths came together to listen to music and then broke up into small groups for discussions about their faith and ethnic traditions, and their personal experiences with prejudice. About 160 people attended, all seeking to find peace and understanding in these contentious, divisive times.
This is a photo of the Hindu group, Chinmaya Mission Metro-West, sharing some of their traditional songs about light.
At the end of the concert, we all sang together Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer”:
If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
And I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land…
I heard many people say, this is what we need right now. We need to come together, talk to each other, learn from each other, and give each other hope.
As we Christians get ready to celebrate what has become the biggest holiday of the year, let us focus on its small beginnings: a newborn child, a young mother, a refugee family – and the light that newborn child brought into all of our lives.
Quoting an old man, John the Baptist’s father Zechariah, as recorded in Luke 1:78-79: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
May it be so.