The Rev. Mitch Todd, associate pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt.:
This is a trick(y) question. It occurs to me that faith shows up on a consistent basis throughout the year in most churches I know of. Faith is both the question and the answer that drives most Christian practice.
You could almost say faith takes a slight back seat to Love and Joy this time of year, as we celebrate the reality and promise of Emmanuel (God with us). To be sure, faith is there in the mix, but perhaps not to the degree of, say, Good Friday, when God becomes, for a moment, absent. Now that’s a day when you want a strong Faith.
The answer to the young girl’s famous question was not: “Yes, Virginia, there is a God.” It was a faith question about Santa Claus! Perhaps that’s what people secretly struggle to believe this time of year — that there is someone out there who is watching over them and will reward their good behavior. I suppose that’s a sort of secular faith.
I happen to be a big fan of Santa — he’s a great role model for generosity and jolliness — but the highlight of the season for me, when I think about it, is a handful of verses from the prologue to the Gospel of John, including my favorite verse, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
To me, the faith “highlight” of December is that notion of Jesus as the light of the world. There does seem to a pause in the worry and conflict of our darkened lives this time of year. Just a brief recognition that there is a reason for hope. As we say, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” a belief that truly does draw on the faith of Christians around the world.
— Send e-mail to Mitch Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Verdell Taylor, pastor, St. Luke A.M.E. Church, 900 N.Y.:
Yes, I believe that there is more emphasis on faith in December than in other months.
Our faith is our belief and in most cases this would be our religious belief. Religious faith can be a difficult concept to grasp. It is rooted in hope and trust. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) states, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
There are many reasons why faith is highlighted more in December than in any other month. The most important reason is because the Christian world celebrates the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25. Although there are many controversies about the actual month of Jesus’ birth, for centuries, it has been celebrated on Dec. 25.
Many members of the faith community also celebrate Advent Season, which occurs mostly in December. For the church and the world, December becomes the month that we clean up unfinished business. We often volunteer more, help someone in need and are more generous in our giving. We tend to be more kind to each other in December than in other months. We celebrate by giving Christmas parties and buying and exchanging gifts. Our motives can often be challenged. Are we giving gifts to receive gifts? Are we giving more to the church or other charities in December, for tax deductions? Do we even think about Jesus as being the reason for the celebrations? These are questions that can only be answered individually.
The truth about December and our faith can be very personal but it is a special month for us to stand and share our faith with others and respect others, when we believe differently.
In every month, not just December, we should strive for peace on earth and goodwill toward others.
— Send email to Verdell Taylor at Pastort77@aol.com.