Reflection and renewal: resolutions for the New Year
There was little rest for us Faiths Act Fellows over the festive period. The festivals of Christmas and Channukah meant that we were busy running our final events of the year and, in London, Harsha Sharma and I were launching our intergenerational multi-faith SolidariTea event at Ruben’s House - a Jewish Care residential home in Finchley.
The event aimed to bring people of different faiths and ages together to unite in solidarity against malaria – one of the world’s deadliest diseases. It is one of many events that have been taking place across the globe ever since the Faiths Act Fellowship began in July.
As 2011 came to a close, it provided us with an opportunity to reflect on the year gone by. Fittingly, our final event took place on Channukah, an eight day festival which reaffirms a commitment to our values. Channukah is known as the “Festival of Light” – in commemoration of the miracle of the Menorah lights lasting eight days instead of one.
The festival is celebrated by lighting the Menorah–a candelabra of eight lights. One of the main lessons Channukah teaches is the affirmation of the power of faith. The rabbis ask the question—"if there was enough oil for one day, what’s the miracle for that first day? Wasn’t the miracle that the oil lasted for the next seven days?" Their answer was this: "the miracle of first day was the deep faith it took to light the Menorah, knowing there was not enough oil for eight days. Faith itself creates miracles".
Interestingly, it is at the darkest time of year that most religions and cultures have some kind of holiday featuring lights. It is an expression of hope that as we endure the long, cold, dark nights, we bring light into the world.
As we set our sights on the New Year, let us make it our resolution to commit to the values of social action and mutual understanding that were put into action at Ruben’s House. It is these values that served to create a warm atmosphere in which people of different ages were able to share their memories, stories and experiences with people from different faiths and to unite in supporting the critical fight against malaria.