People Out Loud: Faith – Regardless of our beliefs

December 2021 Posted in Uncategorized

I asked a young acquaintance recently if she believed the Christmas Story, that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, died for our sins, and that if we believe in God and act as He would wish us to act practicing Christian charity, we will join Him in Heaven with everlasting life. As a reliable Sunday morning church attendee, her response has stayed with me and made an impact I will carry with me throughout my days – “Hmmm… I don’t really know. But I believe that if I do good things in my life, especially for those less fortunate, and treat others well, I will be fine.”

That resonated with me because not only is it timely, given that Christmas is nigh, the season of giving is at its apex, and so many people are in despair, but it is a gut punch to the notion that we are a Christian nation only and anyone who does not subscribe to that is not welcome here. I’m a Christian who loves good people who think differently but act kindly.

Faith, in a spiritual nutshell, is believing in a higher power, a purpose for our short time on earth, without hard evidence. I believe in the tenets of the Christian faith. I have had my faith sorely tested, never more so than when a C-5 Galaxy cargo plane crashed in 1975 as we departed Viet Nam while the Communists were taking over Saigon. In “Operation Babylift,” 78 children died, many so little they had to be carried onto the big jet when boarding. My first question? “Why, Lord?” My soul was crushed and took years to get replenished. Did I mention I love babies and children?

But my thoughts are elsewhere this week. My faith is strong, and I try to live my life helping others, as Jesus wants us to do. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, or don’t, I go back to that young lady who is unsure, but believes that if she is a good person, contributes to society, gives her heart, soul, money and love to ensure others less fortunate will benefit, even briefly, that she will be OK when her benevolent time on earth is done. She has a sign over her table – “If you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher wall.” That is how she lives.

But what if you are a Muslim? An atheist? An agnostic? What if you just love the joy and kindness humans share during December more than any other month, but don’t subscribe to the Christian belief that “Jesus is the reason for the season? What if you believe God created and loves us all, and gave us his Son at Christmas and took him from us at Easter to forgive us our sins? Doesn’t He love all of His children?
Even the Buddhists?

I will not apologize for saying “Merry Christmas” to you and honoring the birth of Christ, our Savior. But I will not forget to say “Happy Chanukah” to my Jewish friends, “Happy Kwanzaa” to my friends who celebrate this African American holiday, and “Have a joyous holiday” to anyone taking a breath. It is how I roll.

But one thing is clear to me – we are in this together regardless of our beliefs, our teachings, our politics, and our capacity to love something, whether it be a beautiful sunset, a manger in Bethlehem, a spinning dreidel, or witnessing the work of God in your granddaughters’ eyes. In my faith, He loves us all. He made us all. He made us different because life would be forever boring if we all looked alike, thought alike, and loved alike. Do good. Help others. Love easily. Forgive.

More importantly, in my faith, the table is long with many chairs and a veritable cornucopia at hand. There is room in the inn.

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