A Season of Miracles
I’m no religion expert, but I am sufficiently familiar with the Jewish and Christian faith traditions to have a sense of the central role that miracles (def. -- surprising and welcome events that are not explicable by natural or scientific laws and are therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency) play in their beliefs. This is also the case with many other great world religions with which I have less personal experience. Why bring this up? Because we are now in the season of miracles.
The Jewish feast of Hanukkah celebrates the purification and rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Also known as the Festival of Lights, it commemorates the miracle of the small ration of oil that burned for eight days, giving light beyond all expectations. And at Christmastime, Christians celebrate the nativity of a child, born of a virgin, in humble circumstances, destined to be the Messiah, Emmanuel (God with us). For Christians, this Incarnation is the ultimate miracle, bringing Light to the World.
The past twelve months or so have been exhausting. Our nation and world appear to have devolved into warring tribes at a time when the need for unity in the face of multiple, grave threats to peace is greater than ever. There seems to be no common ground upon which to build an acceptable future together. But note this: it has been estimated that more than one third of the world’s population are followers of an Abrahamic religion. In the Old Testament, God promised Abraham that he would have a son. Abraham had great difficulty believing that was possible, for he and his wife Sarah were both very old, and she was barren. A year later, their son Isaac was born, a miracle child destined to become the father of a great nation, with descendants “numerous as the stars.”
“And a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). If a significant portion of the world’s population can accept and believe in at least one miraculous birth of a child destined for greatness, there should exist some common ground and hope for reconciliation and coming together again. This holiday season, let’s all celebrate, in our own ways, that childlike hope, and do what we can to bring light to the darkness of our discourse.
Warmest best wishes for a peaceful and joyous holiday season.