Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the beautiful festive decorations, the smell of pine in the house, and the food.
I sit around the table with my mother, siblings, nephews and niece, along with their significant others. We pile our plates with turkey and dressing, honey-baked ham, candied yams, turnip greens, potato salad, cranberry sauce, corn bread, peach cobbler, and sweet potato pie.
After dinner we share memories about my father, who died in 2002, and about Christmas when we were children. We tell funny stories and laugh uncontrollably at each other. After things settle down, we go our separate ways until the next celebration.
I wonder: what would Christmas look like if I shared the story of Jesus Christ at our family gathering this year? You see, it’s natural for me to share the good news with strangers, and even with friends. I regularly associate with people whose lifestyles and faith are different from mine. But what about my own family—the people who truly know me?
I pray often for those in my immediate family who do not know Jesus. Why should I pass up a chance to share the true reason for the season? I feel a sense of urgency to tell them this year.
I decided to test the water. I called one of my nephews who says he has found his peace in Muhammad. I asked him if he was still into the Islamic faith. He said yes. Then I asked if he would be willing to hear about Jesus Christ. To my surprise, he said, “I am not controversial or anything.” I took that as a yes. It seems like the time is right!
This Christmas will not be like previous ones. Before we sit around the table to eat, I will share the good news about Jesus Christ. Together we will have an opportunity to hear the greatest story ever told.
If my father were here, this is what he would want me to do. The chair he used to sit in, I now sit in. One day my chair will be occupied by another family member. The story must continue to be told.
Who will you share a meal with this Christmas? Is there someone close to you who struggles with doubts, or someone who dabbles in Islam, Buddhism, or some other world religion? How willing are you to share your faith? There just may be someone who needs to hear the story about God’s amazing love for all of us.
Pray and be available and sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit for the right time and the right words to invite that person into a conversation. Ask your loved one’s permission to tell the reason for your hope. Don’t hold back. Lay aside any judgmental thoughts you may have had in the past, remembering that he or she is made in the image of God. Show genuine interest and respect for who your loved one is right now. When people know that we genuinely care, they allow us opportunities to build relationships with them.
We spend lots of time preparing for a wonderful Christmas meal. Everybody enjoys each other. It’s one of the few times we’re all together. I am preparing to tell the story of Jesus Christ. I will be satisfied when I know that all my family members believe in him.
I imagine us sitting around the table together with Jesus Christ when he calls us to that great banquet table and says, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15).