Devotional: Christmas at Doris’s
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 NIV
My sister and brother-in-law, Doris and Eligia met and married thirty-eight years ago, he bringing six children into the marriage, she five.
When they come together for their Christmas party, the rooms are bustling with people: kids, grand-kids, great grand-kids, always a baby or two, old family friends, aunts and uncles, boyfriends and girlfriends and outside, a pet goat, Billy and a dog, Jake who happily whips his tail against my leg as I snap pictures.
The air is filled with laughter and conversation. As I look around, I see children of every age.
The smaller ones run through the house. At one point two of them knock the nativity scene off the table and shepherds, wise men, baby Jesus, and Mary and Joseph go flying across the floor. The children reverently scoop up the nativity scene and return it to the table before taking up their games again.
A teenage friend asks if he’s allowed to fix himself a plate. Doris tells him all are welcome. She invites him to sit at the table and eat. In fact, she says if there were only a morsel of food, it would be divided and shared because at her house, everyone is welcome.
Guests fill a table with desserts.
The house is noisy, things are hectic, and one conversation is interrupted by another as folks come and go. It’s a lot of fun seeing everyone again if only for a short while. There’s plenty of hugs and people voicing, “Merry Christmas, I love you.” It’s a wonderful place to be because we all know we’re welcome and accepted.
The party reminds me of the words of Paul when he talked about there being no difference between people. He said we’re all one in Christ. And didn’t Jesus live a life of inclusiveness? He mingled with the rich and poor, he healed the sick and lame and deaf, and he offered spiritual healing to those who didn’t know they needed it. Sometimes he ate with sinners. Other times he taught in the synagogue with the high priest present. He died among thieves, but was risen among men who would go on to build the Christian church. Jesus didn’t differentiate. If someone sought His presence, he accepted them.
Going to Doris's home for Christmas means experiencing God's love, feeling worthy enough to be acknowledged at a time of year when we most need it. I wish the whole world could have a heart like hers, filled with the love of Jesus, a heart that welcomes and includes everyone just as He practiced.
Dear Lord, forgive us when we exclude others. Open our hearts. Fill them with love and acceptance for those who cross our paths. Amen.