Today is Monday. This is Christmas Eve. This is the time of season when one might reflect on peace and goodwill toward all people. It is a happy time for many, especially children who dream about presents. It is also a very difficult and sad time for those who have lost a loved one, those struggling, the homeless, the incarcerated, those who live in war zones.
The world has not changed much in 2000 years since Jesus was born. There have been wars, disasters, evil tyrants, evil governments and insatiable greed and violence. History will continue to repeat itself because most of us have very short attention spans.
Today, I am just going to share a story about love. It is something I will never forget and it made a huge impact on me and contributed to my being generous to others.
When Paul and I were in college at Angelo State University in Texas, we were part of a local church group. Several people would make trips to Mexico to visit and encourage the Huastecan Indian people who were Christians. The Huastecan people were pre-Aztec and some claimed descent from the Aztec and Mayan cultures.
Paul and I decided one semester to make the trip to Mexico and meet some of our brethren. I will never forget the graciousness and kindness we were shown. These people lived in grass huts and lacked for nothing of great import. Orange and lemon trees grew in abundance. They farmed and made their own clothing. We had an interpreter, so it was a treat to be able to speak with the native men and women.
I remember sitting down to a meal with the small tribe who lived atop a mountainside. We were fed like royalty. Fruits, vegetables, burritos filled with beans and peppers, and other foods covered a handmade table. We sat on long log benches. It was simple, beautiful and idyllic. That is until we went into a town.
We white people stayed in a hotel and there was restaurant located inside. The evening before we left for home, we wanted to treat our native brethren to a meal and found out that they were not welcome because they were Indians. Indians were not allowed into Mexican businesses. Sound familiar? It reminded me of the nasty white racist guys who lived above us in an apartment complex and would viciously insult these 3 or 4 Mexican girls who went to school with us. Paul and I would always stand up for them.
The next morning as we made ready to board our bus and return to the comforts of the US, one of the native men showed up to see us off carrying sugar cane on his back. He cut several stalks and handed them to me. I was told that he walked 22 miles round trip to make sure I received some cane for which I had made a comment about a few days back saying I would love to bring some cane home.
Of course, the US officials would not allow that. I cried the entire trip back to think that someone would make that kind of sacrifice for me. I, who could go into any restaurant with out fear of being thrown out. I, who had more as a struggling student than any of those people could ever hope to have. I, a stranger, was important to this man because we followed the same Jesus.
So, this time of year, when I hear people say, “I wish others would see Christmas for what it really means.”
I say, “Live like it’s Christmas every day. Love without measure. Give to a stranger and if you truly follow Jesus, then work for peace and goodwill toward all people.