Among Friends

Readings: Psalm 27; Isaiah 4:2-6; Acts 11:1-18

The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. Acts 11:12a

There’s a scene in the movie, The Shack, when Mac is talking with the Spirit about all the violence and acts of hate that had been done in the name of God, faith, and religion. One claims to know the true God and accuses those who disagree of heresy, perhaps even justifying harming them for their blasphemous beliefs. The Spirit says something remarkable: It was always meant to be a conversation among friends.

Is that how we see our verbal interactions with people of other faiths, or with people who share our faith but practice it in a different way? Do cultural and religious differences lead to lively conversation and appreciation, or argument and rejection? It’s a mixed bag for the Christian faith: even Peter needed a vision from God to overcome his avoidance of Gentiles.

In a time when “keep Christ in Christmas” is taken as “if you wish someone a happy holiday, you aren’t a true and faithful Christian,” I’d like to see those words interpreted in a different way. How about keeping Christ in Christmas by honoring the prayers and beliefs of others – after all, Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. How about remembering that the Magi weren’t Christian or Jewish, but still sought out the Christ child?

On this walk to Bethlehem, as I ask God for the wisdom and faith to see God-With-Us born into poverty, I’d be thankful for good company of any kind on the journey.

Guide me, Lord, to the stable in Bethlehem. Amen.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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