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!
I asked some of the staff here at the Quo Vadis if it was quieter or at least less busy in the village today and yesterday. It seemed less noisy to me… They looked a bit puzzled by my question and stayed silent for a short while, then one replied, “maybe your mind is now calm.”
Then it was my turn to be silent.
No one has ever said that to me… but maybe my mind is now calm and adapting to this place; largely because of where I am staying and the wonderful hospitality and education I am being given.
I’ve mentioned before that I am staying at the Quo Vadis Interfaith Dialogue Center. It is a pleasant peaceful place in a large village (pop. approx. 200,000) of honking horns, mooing cows, barking dogs, firecrackers, PA broadcasts, motorcycles, buses and auto rickshaws. The village with its Ashrams, Temple and Mountain draw many tourists from India and the west. The Quo Vadis is a place where western travelers seem to stumble upon. They come for a good meal, some study in the library, and even some direction or a little conversation. I am fascinated by these visitors, these spiritual seekers and spiritual tourists. Some afternoons and even early evenings I just sit myself down where everyone enters Quo Vadis. If I sit alone, I will meet someone. Spiritual seekers usually and often ex-Christians, some with a vehement opposition to the church and others with a general openness to all things spiritual and the wisdom of all faiths.
I can’t help but wonder as I talk and meet them, how many of their stories match the stories of the vast numbers who have left our western churches over the last decades … what’s interesting to me is how many of these now seekers where either born Christian or called themselves Christian at one time. They struggle with the church and the institution, they have not given up on God.