Christmas as a Witness

Last night I did a service in Capital Heights, Maryland for Pastor Sullivan McGraw. The service went well, and I appreciated the chance to meet the folks there who have already been supporting me for a few years.

After the service, the pastor commented that he and his wife still had some Christmas shopping to do, so he was trying to get out of the church a little earlier than many Wednesday nights. We had a little chitchat about shopping--the crowded stores, the benefits of online shopping, and more.

It reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with the Palestinian mother of one of my students. She and her husband were pharmacists who raised their two daughters in the US until they were about 12; the whole family then returned to their homeland. I asked her if there was anything she missed about life in the States, and she answered, "Christmas."

I thought that was a little funny for a Muslim to miss Christmas, so I asked her about it. She said, "I loved the whole season. Joyful music plays in every store. People are nice to each other in stores and at work. They wish each other well and give gifts; they stop thinking about themselves. I don't know--it was just happy."

I reflected on Christmas here and I agreed with her. There was nothing like that in Palestine--not at any point in the year.

I wondered what specifically it was that made it seem happy to her. She didn't think about the crowds, the expense, the obligation of giving gifts to people that give you one. She didn't focus on the time it takes to write and send cards, or shop for the perfect gift, or the hassle of cooking all the goodies for an endless cycle of parties. She felt the joy of Christmas (and she wasn't even aware of the true meaning of the holiday!)

In all of our merry-making and celebration, we have the chance to spread joy to folks who may not have any other witness of Christ in their lives.

(this site is experiencing technical difficulties--sorry about the bright green text.)

Ariel Rainey