Religious faiths such as Judaism, Muslim, and Christianity have more in common than not, especially when it comes to their holiest time of the year. This is not an observation that speaks to deep theological meanings, or the study of Gods, but rather speaks simply to humankind, of connecting to one another.
Whether Christmas, Hanukkah, or the Qu’ran is observed, we connect through faith in personal ways. And there’s not a more powerful way to connect than when coming together in faith-based communities in religious observation. It is a time of year when kindness seeks a new level, when communication with our fellow man is open with a smile, a handshake or in simple greeting as acknowledgement of one another.
At Catholic Mass at midnight or early Sunday morning, some may observe the overflow of parishioners squeezing into pews and realize it is this one day when every congregant in the parish seems to show up, unlike most Sundays when a pew seat is widely available. What is about this time of year that draws the faithful in large numbers? Does that imply that there is a deficiency in one’s faith during the remainder of the year? What role does our faith play?
Perhaps the faithful uses the holy day(s) to fill a void. It is our connection to one another, our innate desire to share, to stand up and for each other, to reconnect in faith. It’s not that we’ve gone astray, but rather we have returned to a place to be, en masse, to engage with others during a meaningful time and in so doing, engage in the world.
Despite the many distractions in our lives throughout the year, facing darkness, aloneness in heart, mind and spirit, we come out of that darkness into light, to journey to rediscovery. When Jesus is born, Christians celebrate hope! One of the longer chapters in Qu’ran is devoted to Mary, mother of Jesus.
Faith in our lives offers us an opportunity to stand together, to share, to celebrate, to renew our religious identities. Whether we look to the heavens to light our way with the star of Bethlehem or the seven lamp branches of light on the Menorah, we find meaning, connection and home. Our faith and religious communities is a place to be.