Last year we moved from a house along a busy city street to a planned community. We miss the hustle and bustle and choice of Latino, Asian and Italian food, but we are happy to live in a neighborhood where the people next door aren’t moving in and out every six months. We were also pleasantly surprised to learn that at least two of the other families on the street were Evangelical Christians like us. What we didn’t expect was to learn that the nice people who lived right across the street from us were Muslim. Now that almost eighteen months has passed since we began to unpack our boxes I have come to some startling conclusions.
The first surprising thing is that even though our Christian neighbors like us and we get along fine, it is the Muslims who are the easiest to talk to. Secondly they not only greet us with friendly smiles and small talk but also loaned us their pressure washer so we could clean our driveway. Then Christmas rolled around and guess who came to give us a beautiful tin of cookies at Christmas? You got it! What a blessing that our Muslim neighbors are now our Muslim friends! All of this has made me stop to reevaluate how Jesus looks at our Muslim neighbors all over the world .
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:10-12 KJV
If the angels were sent to Bethlehem today they would be probably waking up Muslim shepherds. Stranger still is that this idea is more than okay with God. Notice how in the story from Luke there was no special guidance given to the angels. They were not directed to find only folks who attended synagogue regularly. Instead they were sent to people who would be willing to have a conversation and do something about the news. Then consider the message itself. God sent a message of “Great joy…for all people.” Who better to send a missive on joy to than some shivering shepherds who had to stay up all night watching stupid sheep! Last of all God decided on people who He was certain were going to tell others. Christmas was not some sort of top secret “For your eyes only” communication. If God wanted to keep Christmas quiet He could have gone to the high priest or some of the higher ranking members of the Sanhedrin. They would not have agreed with the good news for everyone part of things so they probably wouldn’t have told a soul. But instead God chose shepherds and a carpenter and strange wise men from Persia to show His love to that night. Since the first Christmas the angels have passed on to us their job of good news telling. Maybe we should ask ourselves who God might be wanting us to tell tonight!