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The end of the year is a very busy and even stressful time. Rhetoric spikes as people defend their preferred “Holiday” greetings and salutations. It’s a time when multiple religions and traditions cross paths and I would like to look at this intersection to explore a deeper truth.
All of our preferences bubble to the surface during this time. Our preferences make us more defensive–even competitive.
Whether we are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or an Islamic New year,a prophet’s birthday, or equinox we all feel as though we have some sort of special rite or status. Deep down we all want our team to win. As Americans, Christmas is by far the commercial success story and it is tied to many of our countries traditions. But let’s remember that Jesus wasn’t born in December. Most holidays are conservative or competitive cover-up for pagan celebrations of the Winter solstice (shortest day of the year). So if any of us rely too heavily on our history as a basis for our preferences, eventually we will be disappointed by our findings.
What can we learn if we pull back and put on our wide-angle lens?
We need to recognize that the winter is a sort of death and we have a tremendous dependence upon the sun for its warmth and provision. Coldness is cozy only when it’s shared with those we love. The cold and dark help us to appreciate our interdependence. Gathering together allows us to regroup after a hard year. We have one eye looking back on the loss of the year and one eye toward the optimism of new life emerging in the coming year. We all are part of a larger rhythm. We scatter and we gather. Let’s look closer at this.
We all love our families and close friends. The end of the year allows us from a social perspective to prioritize our reconnection to each other. In this sense, holidays are the excuse or basis to gather. Our traditions connect us to a lineage or history. All of our ancestors were refugees in search of a better life. They scattered and gathered. Is it any wonder that every faith system and tradition shares this vital aspect. It is how people groups, religions, corporations or tribes breathe. Inspiration and expiration, gather and scatter. We all follow the pattern of the cosmos (I like to say ‘creation’).
Every atom expands and contracts. Every cell. Every plant. Every insect and animal. Every river. All oceans. All mountains. Our atmosphere. Our planet. Our solar system. Every star. (I told you we needed a wide-angle lens)
This is all the same endless energy. All this energy surfaces during the holiday season. It’s multi-dimensional. Now lets go one more click further.
Light is a brilliant expression of this energy. This is the juncture where science and faith converge. Think about it. An immeasurable power that can never be diminished, that takes countless forms, makes us, powers us, helps us, and will never leave us. If we are able to see this then we need not only thank science, but every system of faith as well because we have the light to see. Intelligence. Consciousness. Light. Get it?
- Hanukkah is the festival of lights. It is the gradual increase of light during the darkest time of the year. “And the word of the Lord will be to them line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little…” (Isaiah 28:13) What will this light illuminate for you?
- In Islam there is the An-Nur, “God is the light of the Heavens and the Earth”. He is the one who is seen and makes other things seen too. What will this light Illuminate for you?
- Christmas is the time when “Those who walked in darkness have seen a great light…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2,6) “As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world” (John 9:5) What will this light illuminate for you?
You see folks, the real conversation here is all about our connection to The Light, not to the light distribution system. If our thinking is darkened by pride, competition, and having more or being more than others, then I’m sorry to say that we are bearing very little light. The light takes us beyond our teams, our traditions, and our categories. The Light brings unity and diversity together into something more than the sum of its parts. Light illuminates a collective.
Those who are light bearers will bring a fire that both illuminates and warms the cold and dark places not only in our own consciousness, but in all aspects of our hurting world. Those who share this mission, share in something far bigger than any holiday tradition. They are gathering a scattered world. Those defined by such light, such energy, are those who are called out from the dark. We are told they are the ecclesia (called-out ones). Also known as the Church.
This season, I encourage you to pay very close attention to that little thing inside you that deeply years for connection, for unity, for joy. If you can see it, then you possess some illumination. Use it to light your sphere of influence. The world is waiting for you.