Acton Forum contacted several religious leaders in Acton and Boxborough requesting a seasonal message. This idea was inspired after reading the article in the Boston Globe from 12/16 about suicides among young people from our communities. Many of us were left with more questions than answers. Perhaps some inspirational messages from the leadership from our representative faiths can bring us together and offer support to our community in this Holiday season. The first response was from Pastor Steve.

During the Christmas season the Macy’s store in New York City displays a huge sign that says, “Believe.” Some of our favorite Christmas stories, like The Polar Express, tell us the same thing: “Believe.” But they don’t say exactly what they want us to believe, or believe in.

On the surface they seem to mean to believe in Santa Claus, but of course they don’t actually expect us to. Some folks want you to believe certain religious doctrines, but any given belief may or may not ring true for you, or guide you, or deepen your awareness or involvement in life.

If I could encourage you to believe anything, it would be to believe in something greater than yourself. Believe in wonder, or goodness. You might even be so bold as to believe in us. Believe in each other.

That’s actually the heart of the Christmas story: that God believes in us, and wants to be with us, and entrusts the spirit of love to us. Human beings are the dwelling place of divine love. Whoever God is, God is revealed in human love.

There’s plenty of evidence to make you doubt that: evil, selfishness and cruelty abound. But love, dignity, courage and generosity abound even more. Kindness prevails! Even in the worst moments of human behavior, there are a few people causing harm and way more people helping and healing.

This Christmas, or any time, the most powerful gift you can give anyone—and really everyone—is simply to believe in them. Believe they are beautiful, capable people. Even if they act like the Grinch who stole Christmas, believe that, like the Grinch, they are capable of transformation. Believe that every person has a divine spark in them, especially when they don’t see it themselves.

Macrina Wiederkehr writes in Seasons of Your Heart that when she was born she was pronounced dead. But a nurse believed in that little newborn, picked up the body, and worked it—and she lived! We too can give life to one another through our hope in them. There is goodness in people that we can bring forth only by believing in it.

Look around at the people you see in our community. Dare to believe in them. Dare to hope, and trust what we can’t yet see, but what is there. Your hope will bring it to life.

Whatever the media or your political opponents or your fears want you to believe about people, believe the best. That is, after all, what God believes about you. Believe in people, and you will be the clearest example of God With Us.

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Beautifully said

From a reader: “Beautifully said Steve. Thank you for reaching out to the Forum with your message.”

Michele Holland

Allen Nitschelm has lived in Acton since 1998 and writes about fiscal issues at the
local and state level. He is a former member of the town's Finance Committee
and is an Associate Publisher of Acton Forum.