Each year a theme seems to emerge for me during the Christmas season. This year the theme has been the words the angels sang after announcing Jesus’ birth, “Peace on earth.” I confess I often wonder if it is possible. Between our work with various groups of immigrants and refugees not to mention the media’s world updates, we hear plenty of stories of turmoil, violence, disruption, hatred, etc. This year, however, I have witnessed small pockets of peace.
A women’s leader at a mosque contacted me. She was interested in bringing a group of women to meet women from a church and talk about Christmas. I threw the idea out to our contacts in the area. The response was amazing. Several events have been planned and two have already taken place. I witnessed women from different cultures and religions come together and share their faith stories. They asked questions. They laughed about struggles with raising families. They marveled at traditions. They worked at separating theology and tradition.
We received a call from a friend who is an Imam at a mosque here in town. His home town was destroyed in the earthquake in Turkey. He lost ten family members and none of his family has a home left standing. We informed our friends, partners, family, etc. Again an overwhelming response! We will be visiting the Imam tomorrow and presenting him with well over $1000 to be used in helping his community to recover.
We visited the University of Mary Hardin Baylor a few weeks ago. Energetic bright savvy young people listened intently as we spoke on issues such as human trafficking, crossing cultural barriers, understanding Islam, ministering to refugees, etc. Several of these students will be joining us here in Houston for a few days during their Christmas break. They want to learn more about trafficking, visit a mosque, and help us with projects involving Internationals.
It is not peace on earth yet. But this season I have seen pockets of peace. I wonder if that is what it was like for the shepherds who first heard those words. The world around them did not instantly change. It was still a dirty treacherous difficult place. But there where the Prince of Peace lay inside a stable, did they see a “pocket of peace” and rejoice knowing that it was the beginning of peace on earth?