Religion brings out the best in man and the very worst in man. There are those who seek a connection to a higher being for solace, worship, and the possibility of ascension to higher manifestations of themselves. Then there are those who, at every turn, seek to exploit the spiritual disposition of others. Charlatans and false prophets deceive and steal in the name of the Lord. 2 Timothy 3:13 says: “But evil people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves.”
Holidays also bring out the best and very worst in people. There are those who view holidays as a time to congregate and celebrate with friends and loved ones. Then, there are those who anticipate holidays as the perfect time of year to rob others of their hard-earned money and possessions by means as time-tested as stick-ups and as technologically advanced as online hacking of bank and credit card accounts.
Religious holidays, traditional observances of special occasions as prescribed in Holy doctrine– the Torah, Koran, the Holy Bible, are an interesting combination of the two. False prophets teach and preach messages of paganism and unholy practices to unsuspecting congregations, populated with the naïve and the vulnerable, unwilling to accept the responsibility of study and truth-seeking. Then comes the offering.
To compound matters, the advertising industry saturates the airwaves and social media, filling consumers’ minds with messages of immediate and fallacious gratification. Amazon to Jared, new cars and cruises, fill the marketplace with goodies. Goodies that promise to make you happy by satisfying and making someone else happy because of your ability and willingness to materialize joy. Gratitude is now a by-product of a warped, twisted, misguided act of feeding someone’s material possession addiction.
When I was a kid, this time of year was all about making a list and checking it twice. Santa was going to find out who was naughty and who was nice and reward the latter. Would I get what I wanted? Probably not, but ‘wanting’ is what actually generated the initial sense of excitement– the anticipation gave rise to the exhilaration. TV commercials for Mattel’s, Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robots didn’t make matters better.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, Chanukah, or Eid Al-Fitr, enjoy good food, good music and good company, but try not to overdo it. Holidays are a time of remembrance yet, far too often we forget those who are alone. We forget those who have no gifts, no family, no home, no joy. We forget those whose homes went up in flames earlier this year. The noise of holiday cheer drowns out the sobbing from the loss of loved ones, lost to divorce, gun violence, disease and other natural causes, or the Covid-19 virus. It’s easy to forget the incarcerated, and those on watch and at war in our defense. Try to remember them!
Over this and other holidays, remember prayer. Pray for yourself and for others, loved ones and strangers. Remember to let go and let God. Whatever God or Allah means to you, let God touch your spirit, and find your joy there, not in stuff in shiny paper under a tree. Most important, rather than asking for blessings this season, allow yourself to BE a blessing to someone other than yourself. That’s it… Happy Holidays!
That’s what’s on my mind!