Written by Amanda Slyper
Along with being religious, comes faith in the unseen. We have faith that God loves us, we trust that God will provide, and we believe that our life is given meaning and purpose in partnership with our faith, and by examples of the Lord’s past miracles for his people.
As I write this, I am sitting on a plane headed to California, to spend Christmas away from most of my Christian family (I have NEVER missed a Christmas with my parents and sister). We are headed to visit my brother-in-law Ryan and his fiancé Joshua for two weeks in sunny Palm Springs (so don’t worry, I’ll clearly be just fine).
I am on this plane because almost ten years ago, I married Jaime, the love of my life, a Jewish man. As a rather devout Christian girl, never in a million years did I think I would marry someone who did not share my faith. In fact thinking back, I remember criteria #1 in my future husband was that he must be Christian. But as I grew older and maybe a little bit wiser, I of course realized there was more to picking a life partner than just religion. And as my mother always says, “The Lord works in mysterious ways…” (And that Jesus was a Jew, and that the Star of David was shining bright the night of Jesus’s birth, and so on and so forth.)
Together, Jaime and I are raising our two boys to celebrate both the Christian and Jewish traditions, while trying not to completely spoil them rotten. Along the way, my eyes have been opened to the many similarities in the Christian and Jewish religions; of course it doesn’t hurt that half of our Bible is also studied by Jews.
To me, generosity and kindness prevail as two of the most common themes. Just as Jesus taught us, so are children’s Hanukkah books filled with stories of mitzvahs: acts of kindness to others such as helping a blind person cross the street, keeping the elderly company, feeding the poor, helping the less fortunate. Jolly Old St. Nick himself became a Saint because of his generosity to others (which you should definitely Google).
The other resounding theme that I’ve seen in both Judaism and Christianity is acts of miracles, because of God’s love. At Hanukkah we celebrate eight nights of light, when the lamp should have only had enough oil for one. Miraculously, God provided. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of God’s Son, who was sent to save our souls. Many say that birth itself is the greatest miracle, but I’d argue that a baby being the Son of God seems like the ultimate.
Let us all have open hearts to the many miracles of God’s love, big and small, noticed or overlooked. Even ones that sneak up on us, where one day you find yourself saying, “Ok Lord, it’s not what I had planned, but it IS what I have prayed for… I trust you.” I wonder if that’s what Mary thought when she learned she had God’s greatest miracle in her belly.
Merry Christmas, from the Slyper family to you and yours!
If you miss any of our daily readings, you can find them archived here. (Readings will be added each day.) We hope these readings will help you encounter God this season!