There’s no denying that when Thanksgiving hits, a mad dash to Christmas usually follows. Anticipation builds, parties are planned, cookies are exchanged and stores are flooded with hurried shoppers. It’s all wrapped up in the season of Christmas.
I’ll never forget living in the Middle East and waking up on Christmas morning. We had planned a lunch with our teammates. We grabbed our decorated cookies and headed out the door as if we expected the world around us to carry the same cheer that filled our hearts that day. The realization hit us like a brick wall, “We are absolutely the only ones here who know today is Christmas.”
There wasn’t anything different in the air. There weren’t trees and fires and presents and families nestled in their homes. There were dusty roads filled with the people on their usual route to work. It was just a normal, ordinary day.
The absence of Christmas, that’s what I will never forget.
Why isn’t Christmas here in this place? How do they not know today is Christmas? The questions still haunt my mind and soul.
In Islam, there are 5 major tasks to reach God: pray five times a day, give to the poor, perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, fast during Ramadan, and sincerely profess the Muslim faith. At the root of each task is one thing: man. In Islam, God did not come to man; man must get to God.
Unlike those who practice Islam, we do not have a God who is distant. We do not serve a God who asks us to find Him. We worship a God who came to us because He knew we would fail and that we could never be good enough to reach Him on our own. When every other religion beckons us to do more, say more, and be more in order to reach God, Christmas reminds us that God came to us.
This Christmas, let’s celebrate a God who traded Heaven to gain us. May that joy fill our hearts, so that it overflows into the 2.9 billion people who won’t be celebrating Christmas this year.