The Star of Christmas

To be a Christian in India means many things. But most distinctly at Christmas time it means to hang a star. All Christian homes hang a star and often a lit star in front of or over their homes. You see stars often large and bright, and some with the greeting, “Happy Christmas!” at churches, Christian schools and even some businesses. It’s a subtle yet quite visible reminder that … “at this house we are Christian.” A simple star that points the way to the center of Christmas, a simple star that says its Christmas time and we remember the coming of God in Jesus.

We remember that God came into the world in human flesh, in the form of a baby, innocent and weak, beautiful and full of love to dwell amongst us in this world to feel the things we feel; joy and pain, love and hatred, friendship and betrayal.  Remember Jesus as the center, the reason and the star of Christmas!

Happy Christmas!

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Christmas comes quietly…

I guess that makes sense in a land where only about 2.3% of the population understands themselves to be Christian… Christmas doesn’t hit you over the head like it does in the states with the radio playing Christmas music everywhere, every shopping mall and individual store decked out with sparkly excess, individuals with inflatable lawn ornaments and an intense debate and challenge for many churches trying to claim Advent against a Christmas backdrop that seeks to dull your senses and lull you into a shopping frenzy only “befitting of a Christmas season.”

Of course other holidays and festivals garner much attention at different times. October celebrated the Hindu festival of Diwali, the festival of lights which to American eyes felt like Christmas in the shopping malls in the days leading up to this big festival. And the night of which felt like the 4th of July (American Independence Day) on steroids. From the roof top that I was able to be on that night, I could look in any direction to see amazing displays of fireworks. I can’t imagine the cost in Indian Rupees, though the cost in air pollution was a little more obvious…

But Christmas seems quiet in the days before it comes. I like the preparation time that feels maybe more like Advent but I have to admit missing a little of the buzz.

Still I was able to find Mary and the baby Jesus under the tree…

The colors of red and green…

The comingling of the sacred and the secular…

Kindness and Love

A couple weeks ago I would have told you that I am exhausted. Exhausted physically. Exhausted mentally. Even exhausted emotionally. Traveling is awesome and it can be exhausting and overwhelming too.

And I got overwhelmed. I was sick, I was alone and I found my tipping point.

Or was I alone?…

I called a friend and before I could say a word, the tears began to flow… the next thing I knew I was at my friend’s grandmother’s home being nursed back to health. Her English was sparse but complete enough for us to communicate on the bare essentials. She feed me my favorite south Indian foods, monitored my liquids, let me sit with her, let me sleep in her room so that I would not be alone, held my hand …

She just let me rest, recover and come back to me.

While I was with her in the country, I rested, read and watched the animals, even they slept a little siesta in the middle of the day.

I don’t think I even realized how much she had done for me until the last day I was with her. I went in to her room to say thank you and goodbye and once again before I could even speak, the tears began to flow. She reached out her hand to mine and looked at me with knowing eyes… I reminded her that when I came to her I was so sick and so homesick … and that she brought me back to health. She told me that it was good for her Mother’s heart to be able to care for me. I hugged her with more tears.

What kindness, what selfless love! Look at this beautiful woman’s eyes and smile, it’s written all over her!