By Rudy Barnes, Jr., December 22, 2014
Christmas is about the coming of peace in a troubled world. It is more than a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, whose birthdate is unknown. It comes after the winter solstice to welcome the coming of light after the shortest day of the year. For believers it celebrates the coming of the light of God’s love that can dispel the darkness within us and around us. Christmas is about the power of God’s peace, and it belongs to people of all faiths.
At Christmas, we joyfully celebrate the coming of peace on earth and good will to all people (Luke 2:14). It is about a peace that comes to each of us with our reconciliation with God and that then enables us to be reconciled with others. The power of God’s peace, like God’s love, is both mystical and moral. It is mystical in our relationship with God and moral in our relationship with other people.
How we relate to each other is determined by our standards of legitimacy—our norms of morality and law—and the heart of legitimacy for Jews, Christians and Muslims is the word of God. For Jews, the word of God came through Moses and the prophets; for Christians it came through Jesus, and for Muslims it is set forth in the Qur’an. For all of these believers, the greatest commandment to love God and neighbor combines both the mystical and moral imperatives of their faith.
We love God and share the power of God’s peace by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. In fact, we cannot love God without loving our neighbors, and that includes those we would rather avoid, even our unbelieving neighbors. To spread God’s peace we must learn to share the love of God with all of our neighbors without condemning them or even trying to convert them.
Religious fundamentalists who condemn those of other faiths are working against the power of God’s peace, which seeks to reconcile rather than divide people of different faiths. It is the will of Satan to divide and conquer, and Satan has often used exclusivist religions to bring the darkness of suspicion, hate and violence among different believers.
Let us experience the power of God’s peace this Christmas season and allow the light of God’s reconciling love dispel the darkness of hate and violence around us. Even as we celebrate the special days of our different religions, let us remember that God is bigger than any one religion, and that God’s will is that we all be reconciled and redeemed as children of God and learn to live together in peace.
May the power of God’s peace be with you.