It was the day before Christmas Eve and I just got home from work when my phone rang; it was my friend Mahmood. We hadn’t spoken in a while. Mahmood and I first met when I was in high school and he was in college. We were both working in a campaign to elect a new Congressman. Mahmood was Muslim, from Bangladesh. I was Christian. And the man we worked to elect was Jewish. It was an unusual and rewarding beginning to a long friendship for the three of us. That was 39 years ago.
Mahmood wanted to invite me to celebrate some Christmas gift giving that was going to happen at the Union Rescue Mission on Christmas Eve. He said, “We want to speak out for the Muslim Community here in Wichita that we are peaceful citizens, and we want to help out some Christian brothers in need.” That, is the spirit of the gospel at work in our world.
The gospel passage for Christmas Day is from Matthew 2; it reminds us how long ago some wise men from the East (perhaps around the Bangladesh area where my friend is from) brought gifts to the infant Jesus to show, worship, honor, and love. Today, while these Muslims weren’t worshiping Jesus, they were honoring Him and His birth, knowing it was important to those they chose to serve out of love. I am including a video clip of my friend speaking about this momentous occasion. In the clip he is asked about presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent comments on Muslims. He speaks to his feelings about them and how much he wants us to know most Muslims just want to live the American life and are peaceful citizens.
Christmas Day is a day for love and peace, no matter who we are or what we believe. If we truly care for other members of our society, especially those who are hurting, we will reach out in the spirit of Christmas to show love in tangible ways. This year, my friend Mahmood and his friends from the Muslim community here in Wichita did just that. Here is a video of the Director of the Rescue Mission speaking about how he felt the love today through these gifts.
This Christmas Day will be different from all others for those who are homeless and staying at the Rescue Mission. They now have new clothes, food, and yes even a few toys, all provided by some Muslims who were honoring Jesus on the day of His birth. As the hugs were passed around, from the men staying at the mission to the Muslims who gave them it was obvious that this year they were having a Muslim, Merry Christmas. I know I am too. And, may each of you who read this, whatever your faith, be blessed by the spirit of some Muslims who gave in Jesus name.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.