The world knows not to mess with Ramadan, or the Jewish celebration of the Feast of Lights , or the High Holy Days of other religions, not because it is politically incorrect, but because their worship is serious business- very serious.
Examine if you will, a very brief summary of the intensity with which Muslims approach their holy month:
The most prominent event of this month is fasting which is intended to be an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised awareness and closeness to God. Every day during the month of Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating from before sunrise until after sunset, at which point they answer the call to the last of many prayer services of the daily offerings. In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an. Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus ons self- reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment; this is to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others.
We could find countless celebrations of other religions which point to the importance of worship and all of them are characterized by serious offerings intended to cleanse the soul and help their worshippers meet God face to face.
Can you imagine a Ramadan Santa Claus, or tinsel and blinking lights hanging in the Mosque, or a red-nosed reindeer delivering Ramadan toys. Do you think that Muslims would allow marketers to invade their Holy Feasts or allow silly holiday tunes to replace their chants to God? Do you think that the symbol of Ramadan could ever be a tree or an elf, or a bearded old man at the North Pole?
We Christians are to blame for this trivialization of Christmas, after all, no one forced us to buy toys for everyone we know or made us give up the sacred for the secular. No one made us stop fasting and start feasting. No one will keep us from Church on Christmas morning, other than our turkey in the oven or the fun of watching the kids play with their toys. We need to ask ourselves whether, by allowing this transformation of our Holy Feast, are we presenting the kind of religion that will attract non-believers to consider Christianity as a serious place to find God or as a frivolous place to find fun? Are we showing the best of what we have to those searching for God or are we just offering the same secular values that they have the other 364 days of the year?
Rites and rituals mark who we are, as well as form who we should be. As we examine the thousands of secular rituals in which we engage this Christmas, perhaps we should examine how they define our place in relation to our Creator. We might want to fast from the trivial and unburden ourselves of some of the silliness that mars one of the two most holy times in the Christian year.
Maybe if the world saw how serious - how very serious - Christmas is to us, it wouldn’t mess with us either.