Welcome to the Month of Questions 171
In this issue
Do Bahá’ís Celebrate Christmas? From Motherhood and More
A Great Explanation For Children On Why Baha’is Don’t Celebrate Christmas!
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an 11-year-old Baha’i, 18 April 1988. Published in the British Baha’i Journal, August 1988:
You have asked if Baha’is are allowed to celebrate Christmas. The answer to this question requires careful thinking so that the meaning will become clear. Since Baha’is believe in all the religions sent by God, it seems reasonable that they should celebrate Christmas and the other holidays of Christianity and other religions. But would this be sensible? There are at least two points to consider.
One point is that Baha’u’llah, the latest Prophet from God, has brought us new Teachings for a new Day. With His coming we have a new calendar with new Holy Days. For example, the Intercalary Days and Naw-Ruz offer us occasions for gift-giving and celebration.
Another point to consider is this. If the Baha’is celebrated Christmas among themselves, people who did not know of their belief in Baha’u’llah might think that they were Christians. It could become even more confusing to people if, in addition, the Baha’is also observed the holidays of other religions. To avoid such confusion the beloved Guardian advised the Bahá’í friends not to continue celebrating holidays like Christmas and New Year among themselves.
However, as you know, not everyone is a Baha’i. Many Baha’is come from Christian families who celebrate Christmas, there is no harm in such a Baha’i sharing Christmas with Christian relatives. Sometimes Christian friends may invite a Baha’i to join their Christmas celebration, this is all right because the Baha’is are taught by Baha’u’llah to be friendly with the followers of all religions. The thing to remember is that Baha’i families or Baha’i communities do not hold Christmas celebrations among themselves.
Prayer for Peace in the World
O Lord, verily, I invoke Thee in this Supreme Threshold, under the wing of the gloomy nights; pray to Thee with throbbing heart and flowing tears, imploring Thee, supplicating between Thy hands, and cry: O my Lord, verily the fire of battles is raging in the valleys, hills and streams, and the conflagration of war is burning even under the seas and high in the air, destroying and devastating. The earth is enveloped by its own fires and the sea is encompassed by its storms, thunderbolts and floods. O Lord, the souls are stifling, the death rattle is in their throats, the earth quakes, and has become so small that even the birds are frightened in their nests and the animals terrified in their lairs and caves. O my Lord, remove the veil, scatter this dense cloud on the horizon, extinguish these fires, subdue this flood, in order to stanch the bloodshed as compassion to the widows and mercy to the orphans, that these hurricanes may cease, the thunderbolts be extinguished, the torrents quelled, the land become visible, the souls find composure and the breasts be dilated. And we will thank Thee for Thy abundant favor, O Thou dear! O Thou forgiver! (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 406-407)
Sacrifice and Service
At Christmas our thoughts turn to finding ways to be of service to our families and to those less fortunate, so this month’s book, Sacrifice and Service will help put us in the right spirit! It is a compilation of writings and prayers that focus on sacrifice and service, imploring all people to make sacrifices and expend their energies in service to mankind as a means to improve the world of humanity and bring about its oneness. Part of a 6-Part series, this book is good for both private meditation; and for devotional gatherings. It is designed to encourage readers of all faiths to think spirituality and to take time to pray & meditate on these important topics.
Continuing on the theme of Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, I’d like to share this new song, which has gone viral on the internet, with over 16 million views. It’s called: Mary, Did You Know? by the American a cappella quintet group “Pentatonix”.
The Pentatonix YouTube channel boasts more than 600 million views and 6.7 million subscribers, propelled by their unparalleled performances. They’ve won in the “Best Response Video” category at the inaugural YouTube Music Awards on November 3, 2013. The group also has more than 1.7 million Facebook fans, over 400,000 Twitter followers, and 281,000 Instagram followers. The group continues to create, arrange and perform new music, consistently testing any and every preconception of what vocal music is and just how big it can be. Once you’ve had a taste of their music, you’ll want to hear more!
Carolyn Kornatz is a social worker who has worked for over 20 years to assist individuals and couples to meet their goals and strengthen their relationships. Increasingly her work has included those who have suffered abuse. She has a broad range of experience and expertise to draw on. The tools she finds are particularly effective include Emotionally Focused Therapy; Gottman Couples Therapy and Nonviolent Communication to learn how to speak honestly and at the same time with compassion.
Do you ever despair, thinking the core activities can’t work in North America? Here’s a community that’s showing us how to do it! Cultivating Capacities provides an inspiring, encouraging, enthusiastic illustration of how the core activities can be described and implemented. Have a look at how they describe their community building activities:
Cultivating Capacities is a collective initiative that is born out of the desire to serve others and learn in a community of individuals who come from varied backgrounds and cultures. Activities that cultivate innate potential that empower residents to take charge of their own spiritual, social and intellectual capacities lay the foundation of how we can collectively contribute to the betterment of our neighborhood community. An education curriculum, open to all, that enables individual and collective transformation through developing skills for serving others. Members from all religious backgrounds engage in several ongoing neighborhood activities where all are welcome to participate and support in any capacity.
This is an opportunity for neighbors and community members to come together with the purpose of identifying activities that build unity and foster a vibrant community life. A space has been created for conversation and learning where residents can work together in contributing to the betterment of community. The vision for Cultivating Capacities is not just about ‘offering’ activities, but rather to train and accompany individuals in order to sustain activities in their own neighborhood. In addition, it serves as a hub for those who would like to serve others. Members of our community can offer talents to share with others and at the same time specific needs can be shared through Cultivating Capacities. This initiative not only builds individual and collective capacities that foster caring communities it also serves as a bridge for connecting community members together.
Their home page has links to each of the core activities, stories and an up-to-date calendar, showing that this initiative is a “happening place”!