Every year our family celebrates Christmas by choosing a different country. We learn and study both customs and food that makes each country unique. This past Christmas we celebrated a Peruvian Christmas. That entailed a lot of hot chocolate and Panettone. (Who knew an Italian bread was such a hit in Peru? But they love embracing other cultures so: “why not?” they say.) Since 1985 we have been all over the world (figuratively speaking) and learned how people celebrate the birth of Jesus. Our world map is full of memories of where we have “been” in these celebrations. Although we haven’t left home to understand these different cultures we have celebrated them right from our house in Bay View. But yet each year, we learn a little more about how each culture celebrates this important birth.(Just imagine how much more I could understand the culture if we actually went there.) I see Jesus differently each year. I feel connected to diverse people throughout this world as we have studied and lived out their Christmas festivities. It is an important opportunity to see life through the lives of other people. Our Christmas tradition is to not have a Christmas tradition. It’s a “walk a mile in their shoes” opportunity. What I’ve learned in all of these years is that there are many ways to celebrate this special birth. There are many ways to love thy neighbor by understanding who they are.
One of the reasons that I enjoy being on the Mission Team is that I learn about cultures from the missionaries that we support. When we, Bethany Covenant Church, reach out by helping to fund different missionaries around the world, we learn how people are being the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s really amazing what is happening. It’s also incredible to see how innovative people have gotten during the pandemic. The Mission Team would love you to join us in having a deeper relationship with those we support. Throughout the year we get news of how they are celebrating the birth, the life, and the death of Jesus.
Lent is coming up, and I’ve been thinking that it’s time to add Lent to my cultural calendar. We spent a month in Italy one year during Lent, culminating with Good Friday, Easter and let’s not forget Pasquetta (the day after Easter is a major holiday in Italy). It has forever cemented the love for the Italian people in my heart. They are truly neighbors that I love. How many different ways can I understand the Lenten season and the sacrifice that Jesus gave? Is my way of understanding Jesus’ life the only way? How can I be better at loving thy neighbor? If you get a chance, step out of the culture that you know and love and embrace another one. You will understand our missionaries better, and you might even see Jesus through different eyes. Please join us, March 8th, at 7PM in Room 402 for more on Bethany missionaries.