Merry Christmas! Or as they say here, "Happy Christmas!"
Christmas was different this year. We played Marco Polo in the pool under balmy African skies. We barbecued fish instead of cooking turkey. We spent it with our missions team instead of our extended family. And we went to Burgers Park (Pretoria's central park) to attend a Christmas program and to help serve food and pass out gifts to the poor and homeless. It wasn't your typical Christmas program or our typical Christmas experience.
The program was what you might call "low budget." The singing was somewhat strained as people from multiple cultures were trying to understand what was going on, let alone understanding the words of the songs. The dramas were simple, sometimes corny, and the acting was marginal. The food and gift distribution was somewhat chaotic, but at least everyone got a hot meal and every kid under 12 got 1 gift. But you know what? There was joy. And there was dancing.
Strained. Simple. Chaotic. It's certainly not what we're used to. But as I sat in the park among a few hundred poor and homeless people, I wondered if we were experiencing a Christmas more like the Christmas Joseph and Mary experienced than the kind of Christmas we ever could attending a well-choreographed performance held in a climate-controlled and omfortable sanctuary. I'm not sure anyone really knew how the day would unfold out there under the clouds and trees in the park. But in the end, everyone got a gift. And that's Christmas.
May Christ touch your heart this Christmas.