“O God, the nations have come into your inheritance.” – Psalm 79:1
A member of my church is an Indian expat, transferred by his company from India to far Syracuse.
Last year, I asked him if he would be a Scripture reader at our candlelight Christmas Eve service. Like many people living abroad, he has developed a tight community of friends and colleagues from home, so I wasn’t surprised that, when he arrived, an Indian friend walked in behind him. But then came another. And another, and another, and another. I couldn’t help counting; almost thirty people had come to support him—not one of them, I would later learn, Christian.
After he did his reading, his friends all shook his hand and patted him on the back as he sat down in the pews.
The time for communion rolled around, and I gave my congregation’s “everyone is welcome, no matter what” invitation. All of our guy’s friends—every one of them—took me up on the offer. As I handed each the bread, I realized that they had been careful to research the religious customs of the locals before coming that night: each of them—every one—responded to my “The body of Christ” by smiling as they took the bread and saying, “Merry Christmas!”
The Psalmist thinks it’s bad news when nonbelievers receive God’s inheritance. I think that last Christmas Eve, somebody granted us a vision of the Kingdom of God.
Dear God, make this Advent full of earnest offers and awkward acceptances, serious rituals and hilarious moments, and goodwill all around. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.