Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed. The Holiday Season is in full swing. The ramp-up started the day after Halloween, thanks to retailers who let us know Christmas is coming and it’s time to get ready!
For many Christians though, there’s another season that begins this Sunday called Advent. We observe Advent on the four Sundays before Christmas. It is a time of preparation for Jesus’ coming—both his coming as the Christ child born on Christmas Day, and the second coming of Jesus at the end of the ages. There’s a lot more to it than that. If you’d like to know more, you could easily do some digging online.
There are other religious traditions observed in the month of December that are sometimes overlooked, for example Kwanza, an African American holiday, and Chanukah, a Jewish holiday, to name just two. How much do you know about these holidays? I admit that I don’t know as much as I’d like to about other religious traditions.
I am always impressed with a particular member of our interfaith clergy group who often comes to our meeting with a greeting that is timely, in another language, and of a different faith tradition than his own. I think this simple act shows respect and acknowledges the importance of another person’s faith. He stands in solidarity with them, especially in difficult times throughout the world. That’s important.
We can all do that, and I suggest that we do. Often we can stand with others when we know and understand more about their faith traditions. It’s as easy as getting online or having a conversation with someone, or both. Then we can begin to understand that as human beings with the same basic needs, we all want peace, hope, dignity and love.
For Christians who follow the liturgical calendar, we just ended our season of “Ordinary Time” with “Christ the King Sunday.” Contrary to a traditional kingly image, Jesus is an unusual king—not wielding a sword but humble in nature. The gospel passage for the day talks about treating others in the same way that one would treat Jesus. That is, by feeding the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger and visiting the prisoner.
Through a broader lens, that includes treating your neighbor as yourself. Imagine how much better the world would be if we all did that!
Finishing the season of Ordinary Time, we celebrate an unusual king that doesn’t fit the mold, who will come again in judgment at the end of time. As we enter this season of waiting and preparing for the coming of another unusual king, an infant king, may we always take care of all people, treating them with the same tenderness we would any baby, especially the one we call the Prince of Peace.
The Reverend Karen Cuffie is Rector at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Morgan Hill and is an active participant in the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. She can be contacted at [email protected].