Thursday, December 08, 2005

Greetings in the Season of Peace

I've been following the "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" controversy that has been gathering steam this season and decided to write a letter to my fellow Christians. Here it goes.

To my fellow Christians in the Season of Peace

Dearly loved brothers and sisters,

I wanted to give you a warm Baha'i greeting during this festive and special time of the year for my fellow Christians around the world. I refer to you as fellow Christians because as a Baha'i I recognize the Divinity of Christ and the Gospel as the Word of God. This is a fundamental aspect of Baha'i belief. I've been observing that some of my fellow Christians seem unhappy this season about the challenge of celebrating the birth of Christ in a religiously plural society.
Many of you feel that efforts at inclusivity, such as wishing people a "Happy Holiday" rather than "Merry Christmas" are part of an effort to marginalize Christians rather than respect the beliefs of your neighbors of other faiths.
Is it possible that we can find a way to express our love of Christ that unites rather than divides? I believe that the path to a full and unifying expression of the Biblical commitment to love our neighbors as our selves is to recognize that God is one and that beyond all diversity of human interpretation and cultural expression that religion is likewise one. We could celebrate the birth of Christ as a part of the common spiritual heritage of all humanity that has been created in the image and likeness of God. To do so is in no way to diminish the spiritual and historical importance of Jesus but to fulfill His desire that we become "one fold" with "one shepherd". If we adopted such an attitude it might free us all from our fears and allow us to unite in praise of God who loves us so much that not only did He give us Christ, but also Abraham, Moses, Muhammad, the Bab and today in this new and wondrous age, Baha'u'llah.