Friday, January 2, 2015

A Christmas Tourist

Had an odd conversation with myself the other day.  Mondays are my day off, and with my kids out of school, I decided to take them down to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg for Christmas Town.  It sounds hokey, but it can be fun, especially with a recently-turned-eight-year-old and a nine-year-old and their boundless enthusiasm over most anything.  We all love the lights and the singing.  The shows are fun, and there is heat in the theaters.  One thing I found fascinating while going through the park was a Muslim family enjoying the day.  How did I know they were Muslim?  I did notice the wife's hijab, which was kind of a give-away.

Now, being someone whose attire is also a give-away on most days, and people do take second glances when they see me go by, it is something that I pay attention to now in a more unique way.  My clothing sets me apart as a Christian, and professional Christian at that. One thing I found interesting was that for this family, it was a special day at an amusement park, a day out with the kids.  Their children oohed and awed just like mine.  The parents smiled and were delighted just like I was.  The lights and singing made it beautiful and fun.  Because it had the word Christmas in it, I would have thought at first think, that that would keep a Muslim family away.  But pondering it further, I am guessing that our culture is so saturated with "Christmas," and it is so pervasive in everything in the month of December, that can be appreciated without being believed.  Because it is my belief, I am guessing that it was I who was drawing a line of exclusion instead of this family who chose and paid to be included in the beauty and celebration.  I pondered that when they happened to be in the same area we were also visiting a few times that day.

It was most enlightening when we went to see the show Gloria! at the park.  It was all true Christmas carols (mentioning and celebrating the birth of Christ instead of Frosty or Rudolph).  There was a nativity, and Christmas favorites.  Sitting on our row was the Muslim family.  I wondered, do they know what this show is about?  Then I wondered, why do I even care?  I found the numbers beautiful and rousing, especially with Gospel choir versions of some classics as the show-stoppers.  Like me and my kids, the family applauded and enjoyed the show.  All this pondering made me think of how we do church.

What if we were as inviting and beautiful and welcoming and fun as Busch Gardens?

What if we were a safe place for folks to come and check us out, without needing to denounce who they are or what they believe to come in?

What if in they encounter they saw something they liked?  What if their encounter did nothing other than give them a fun time and positive feelings toward the Church?

What if we approached everyone with the same acceptance, and dare I say grace, as the smiles I received when I handed over my ticket to come in?

I am glad I got to see Christmas from another point of view.  I am glad that some Muslims showed me Christ this year.  Many Christmas blessings.  May we all live Christmas lives instead of Christmas seasons.

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Blessings, Rock