My paper plate has food on it I can’t pronounce and also stuffed grapeleaves and these amazing dulce de leche shortbread cookies from Argentina. The host home is lit from stem to stern and Christmas music plays, and we each eyeball name tags and become as familiar as we can to countries from around this globe, kind smiles, exotic food, what young ones dream to be, how to pronounce names, what their names mean.
My friend’s students hadn’t known any English until they entered his class, and they’ve learned well, so at semester end, we throw them a Christmas party, and there our aim is LOVE. Our Community Group takes it to them saran-wrapped with chocolates and in the full-grin faces of our children. We grownups nervously handshake and dance an awkward social line as we try to relate.
Eventually our children are sitting in laps and holding hands, locking fingers as if our own culture were so affectionate. A strong young man from the East shows my oldest photos of himself from back home. It doesn’t take long for Love to be genuine, for all of us to want to know more, to want to reveal more. We are making exchanges, and we’re not realizing time.
At night’s end, we share with them what our immediate Christmas culture is, so one of us led the entire group in a little play. Everyone gets involved. It begins with Adam and Eve in the garden with the snake, and then this sweet guy from Dubai is wrapped in a rope from which he couldn’t escape, and then it ends with some angels and shepherds, one girl holding a baby, the rope being cut with scissors.
We laugh and role-play, and not one of us doesn’t take it in, the beauty of the scene. This night, I really listen to the gospel story. I really take it in.
Then we read short lyics of 3 songs: Joy to the World, Silent Night, and Jingle Bells. We teach them how they go, and we all sing, and we sing loud, and we smile. Then we go outside and walk through the neighborhood, and we knock on doors, and we sing to the neighbors.
One lady stands in the doorway under her husband’s arm. Tears role down her face as she bounces her baby.
It’s a beautiful story to tell, but it’s an altogether different kind of beauty to live.
My soul feels doubled. God’s best for His followers is to embrace, to share story, to live what we say we believe.
May your Christmas be a realization of your own part in the Jesus Story. Merry Christmas!
By Amber, the Run-A-Muck