Heidi and Joe Battista at a screening of the Christmas special “The Chosen” in Altoona. Photo by Joe Battista
Well, we’re past Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, two of the most recognizable holidays here in the United States. As usual, we’ve been bombarded with posts about Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday deals, Giving Tuesday charity opportunities, and posts about holiday and holiday events. With social media, it appears that posts have been sped up to “ridiculous speed,” as the Mel Brooks sci-fi parody “Spaceballs” coined.
With all the different messages reaching us all day long from so many sources, it is sometimes easy to forget which messages are important and which are just noise. With so many people, businesses, charities, and organizations vying for our attention, it’s harder than ever to focus on the ones that matter most.
We are all messengers in one way or another, given the technology we have today. You have the choice to be a messenger of good or bad, of the mundane or the important, of urgency or of long-term impact. We also have the choice to think more intentionally about what messages to send and to whom and whether to send them.
As we move into the Christmas and New Years holiday season, I hope you will think more deeply about who you want to connect with, why you want to connect, and whether your post serves a more important purpose. We can all be messengers of unity, hope, peace, love and joy, especially at this time of year.
It was utter chaos in the Battista house for three days over Thanksgiving with my wife’s sisters and their families, including our nieces and nephews and four grandnieces and nephews, as well as our three grown children and two dogs. It was also a blast! Getting together as a family is something no one can take for granted during the pandemic.
One of our traditions is to go around the table and ask everyone to say a few words about what they are grateful for and, as you can guess, “family” is mentioned a lot. Clearly, we are mostly a religious and spiritual group and you also hear the word “blessed” a lot during our traditional Thanksgiving meal. The message of family and faith is strong in our world.
There was, of course, a juicy 20-pound turkey, a stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, a casserole of green beans, baked corn, creamed onions, a cranberry salad, potatoes. sweet, homemade applesauce and fresh rolls, and for dessert we enjoyed the Peppermint Stick and Vanilla Bean Creamery Ice Cream, Apple Crisp, Homemade Banana Cream Pie, Colonial Innkeepers Pie , pumpkin pie and apple and cranberry pie. We actually forgot to take out the honey cooked ham, but don’t worry, it will keep well until Christmas.
The role of a messenger
My vocation is to be a messenger of cooperation, collaboration and community – of mutual respect and common courtesy for the greater good. As a Christian, I see that my role is simply to make others aware of the message and to make them discover my faith so that they can see the joy it brings to me and to my sisters and brothers.
My role is to pray that others find the same passion and the same spiritual spark. But that’s where I feel my responsibility as a messenger ends. I will not resent, belittle or annoy others for submitting by trying to convert or influence them excessively. It is not a win-lose proposition. I don’t get a commission for anyone who believes because I hit them in the head with my beliefs. I will not force unbelievers or those of a different faith to believe what I believe. Trying to force yourself to see it my way would be rude, callous, and probably only alienate you. He will eventually fail to change his mind anyway.
What I also won’t do is hate you because you don’t agree with me. Likewise, I ask you not to hate me because I may not agree with you. Let’s listen with respect, keep an open mind, and learn from each other if we don’t agree.
What I’m gonna do is encourage people to to consider the message of hope I’m talking about. I encourage believers and non-believers to watch a program called The chosen because it is done so well, and it brings a message of peace, hope and joy. And what’s wrong with that? It is so well produced and stylish that even if you are not a believer I think you will come away with invaluable lessons on sacrifice, putting others first, challenging people to be more than they thought and simply take more care of others.
My wife and son Ryan joined me last Thursday as we drove to AMC theaters in Altoona to see the 2021 sold-out movie version of The Chosen Christmas Special. The fully engaged audience was entertained with a mix of cheerful and inspiring traditional Christmas carols as well as new songs by several outstanding contemporary artists. It also included a new episode focused on the birth of Jesus. The theme of the show was “The Messengers” and the message was “People should know,“ as inspired by a humble shepherd who witnessed the Nativity.
It was the # 1 new show in theaters across the country last week.
The Chosen is the greatest crowd-funded television series of all time and the first multi-season show on the life of Jesus. It is the story of how Jesus chose the 12 apostles. Like most episodes in seasons 1 and 2, this new episode gave me chills, made me laugh, and brought tears to my eyes. I strongly encourage you to watch the 18 minute pilot episode titled “The Shepherd” to get a preview of this incredible series.
I think we have no choice but to listen to each other’s messages and work together in these times of division. While there are many good leaders, there are unfortunately too many power-hungry politicians, corrupt officials and greedy business leaders sending the wrong messages to the masses. I sincerely hope that more CEOs and heads of government will truly put the concern of their employees and their constituents before their personal interests.
While I’m certainly not a Michigan football fan or Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, I have a new respect for Harbaugh who announced he would give his bonus to sports department employees who suffered pay cuts during the pandemic. What will you do for those who are less fortunate than you? Inviting a friend who isn’t able to return home during the holidays to enjoy a little camaraderie? Volunteer for one of the many causes in your community that could really use your time (and donations!).
Personally, I think it’s no coincidence that I recently met Tom Whitehead and the story of his daughter Emily and her courageous battle to beat cancer. During my lunch meeting with Tom, I learned all about his daughter’s miraculous journey and their family foundation and even received a copy of their book “Praying for Emily: Faith, Science and Miracles.” who saved our daughter ”.
Tom also told me the story of Dr. Carl June, the inventor of cell therapy (CAR T-Cell), which saved Emily’s life. She was the # 1 patient in the trial, and it was the science of Dr. June’s team and Whitehead’s faith, persistence, and courage that not only saved her life, but paved the way. to others to receive the same treatment. This is a positive message that we can all agree on.
You have the choice to be a messenger and deliver your message with dignity, grace and respect. I hope, and I will pray shamelessly, that you will assume your role as a messenger for the greater good, and patiently and humbly accept that those you are addressing will hear your message and possibly embrace it as well.