What does Christmas look like?
This time of the year nativity scenes are prominent. In them Christmas looks like a gathering of shepherds and Wise Men and farm animals gathered around a baby.
This time of the year crowded stores are prominent. In them Christmas looks like a chaos of people in competition to find the impossible–a physical object that can somehow express a deeper love.
These are the common scenes of Christmas, but this year I saw Christmas in two other places.
I saw Christmas yesterday morning as more than a hundred people gathered at the Reeb Avenue Center for brunch. The diversity of people within a single cafe is something seldom found. Millionaires and people living under the cloud of eviction notices came together and the spirit of Christmas was among them.
Six hours later, another hundred or so people gathered for dinner at the Church for All People. Our friends from Jerome UMC provided and served a lasagna dinner to a community far different from their own. Families with anxious children, widows, and men in worn clothing shared Christmas greetings and the spirit of Christmas was among them.
In this Christmas Eve breakfast and dinner I saw it, I saw Christmas. I saw it as people sat at tables with loved friends. I saw it as strangers served one another with no expectation of return.
Some 30 years after the Bethlehem scene, Jesus said to a person who invited him to dinner, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Do you want to know what Christmas looks like? This Christmas season I invite you to provide a meal to someone, without any expectation of return. In doing so, you may be repaid by the presence of a Christmas spirit greater than the display of a nativity scene and certainly more life-giving than crowds at the mall. Invite someone who can’t repay you and you will be blessed.