"More Life to you and Joy!." These simple words are spoken from the heart and they go out to all our leaders civic and religious, and residents newly established or with deep roots in Smithville and DeKalb County. As our community continues private and public celebrations of the season, this is also a time for reflection on Community, Hospitality, and Love.
As the observance of Jesus' birth approaches, I recall that many of the world's religions recognize the life and teachings of Jesus and seek to follow his example. There are two teachers of religious tradition I wish to highlight here that celebrate common ground with the Christian understanding of Jesus.
Some years ago the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh focused on Love, Hospitality, and Community between religions, his words reflect that when he says, "The only way to touch Jesus is to practice his teaching. The teaching of Jesus is his living body, and this living body of Christ manifests itself whenever and wherever His teaching is practiced." Another teacher and poet intent on writing and celebrating the themes of Community, Hospitality and Love was a 12th century Persian poet named Jelaluddin Balki, otherwise known as the poet Rumi. Rumi wrote several quatrains about Jesus, One reads:
Where Jesus lives, the great-hearted gather.
We are a door that is never locked.
If you are suffering any kind of pain,
Stay near this door. Open It.
The message of Christmas for me is one that inspires working to build Community, practice Hospitality, and demonstrate greater Love across cultures and religious practice much as the Sufi poet Rumi, and the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. More Life to you and Joy!
Rev. Mark C. Pafford
Chaplain and Minister