Happiest of holidays to all

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The 30-plus members of the Interfaith Fellowship of Augusta are professional and lay leaders from Christian, Muslim, Judaic, Buddhist and Unitarian Universalist faith communities in the CSRA. We wish our fellow community members the happiest of holidays.

Since many holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day, Solstice – are celebrated at this time of year, we can all share our good wishes with one another.

The IFFA does not ignore our differences, which are real and important.

However, we know that we share many of the same most basic values, which can provide the basis for working and celebrating together.

We wish people the hope embodied in a newborn baby: unlimited potential to bring more justice, equity and compassion to our relationships and our world.

Hope is what keeps us working to achieve these goals even when their attainment seems so distant.

We wish people lives filled with joy, the outward manifestation of gratitude for the manifold gifts of life that we do not earn.

We wish people the peace that comes from accepting our flawed as well as our good tendencies, and not projecting only the bad parts onto others.

Recognizing that others are just like us keeps us from thinking they are evil. It lets us work together to build our society on justice, equity and compassion, because if one is lacking there will be no true peace.

Finally, we wish people love, starting with ourselves then extending to family, friends, co-workers, and even those we do not know. All of our religions are based on and teach the kind of love expressed in that religion’s version of the Golden Rule.

So, at this time of celebration and festivities, the members of the IFFA wish everyone lives filled with hope, joy, peace and love.

Andy C. Reese

Augusta

(The writer is planning committee chairman of the IFFA.)

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howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 12/25/11 - 02:34 pm
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This is a very general letter

This is a very general letter which makes everyone feel good. No problem. Such is the purpose of an IFFA.

My only question is regarding the rather oblique reference to Christmas (if it is in relation to Christmas at all): "the hope embodied in a newborn baby". This "hope" is said to be justice, equity, and compassion. Sounds good to one and all.

If this reference is in regards to any newborn baby, then great. Platitudes and well-wishes abound in these words (which lack specifics, but do sound nice nevertheless).

But, if this reference is to the Christ-child of Christmas, then Dr. Reese has really missed the boat. Christ was not born to bring justice, equity, and compassion among men. Christ was born to save mankind from the wrath of God that our sins demand. Christ did not bring justice. We do not want justice. We want forgiveness and grace. That is what the baby in the manger came to do -- die on a cross to serve our justice and restore our relationship with our Creator.

None of the other faiths represented in the IFFA know this concept. Grace is foreign to them. Christianity is different.

That is the message of Christmas. There can be peace, hope, joy, and love to one and all; but their ultimate fulfillment will be found only through Jesus Christ. That is why we celebrate Christmas, as all are invited to worship this newborn baby -- our God in the manger.

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