Christmas is the time of the year when the world’s Christians remind themselves of where it all began. We remember our “Prince of Peace” born in a humble stable at a village near Jerusalem called Bethlehem. I hope you can visit one day.
Christians believe Jesus was not met there by a parade of the powerful but by a few shepherds and some wise sages who traveled all the way from the East to celebrate his miraculous arrival. Those sages brought gifts to the newborn Jesus. Among the gifts were the same perfumes one smells in the homes of people living in the Middle East to this very day.
Isn’t it interesting that it was a few shepherds and wise sages of the East who first recognized the significance of the arrival of Jesus?
We, the Christians in the West, are especially indebted this time of the year as followers of a faith begun in the East — in the Middle East. One of the great contributions of the Middle East is the Christian faith; it is something which should elicit great pride and celebration each Christmas in the region. The Christian heritage of the Middle East is a beautiful heritage; it is a blessing too often buried under the sands of history.
Like for my Muslim friends, our holy days are a type of reset for Christians. We focus our hearts and minds again on God alone as opposed to all the other cares of life.
And there have been a lot of cares in all of our lives over the last couple of years as the world has flung from one wave to another of COVID-19. Here we are again already to omicron in the alphabet.
Dear God, would you bring Vision 2030 to full fruition and grant the next generation of Saudis every blessing of the future built upon the best of the past.
Rev. Johnnie Moore
Yet, Christmas reminds us that sometimes God’s involvement in history looks very different than anyone expected. Yet, God is always there and always at work.
I once read about a long, turbulent flight. A strong, older man was sitting next to a little girl on the airplane. As the plane lurched from one side to the other, the strong man was terrified. Beads of sweat formed on his brow and he wondered if he would survive.
The little girl was different. She seemed totally fearless for the entire flight even when the plane lost some altitude. She didn’t even wince.
By the grace of God, they eventually landed, and the strong, terrified man looked at the little girl exited the plane and said, “I was so scared and I’ve seen a lot in my life, how were you so brave yet so young?”
The little girl looked at the man and said, “well, sir, my father is the pilot so I knew he would get us home.”
God, whom Christians often call “father God,” is our pilot however turbulent life sometimes seems.
Even when we can’t make sense of our turbulent world, we can trust in our pilot. That’s the message of hope I’m holding onto as we find ourselves again in a COVID Christmas.
When I was a child, my father worked for a few years in Saudi Arabia.
He traveled home every few weeks for a few days bringing with him mysterious gifts from this faraway land. It created in me a lifelong fascination with Saudi Arabia and with it a love for the entire Middle East. As an adult, I’ve been fortunate to spend time in the region, and I’ve come to love it as a second home.
So, this Christmas, my gift to Saudi Arabia is this simple prayer from my heart:
Would you grant the leaders of Saudi Arabia — King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — and all its people and residents your help, your wisdom, and your blessing. Would you give the Kingdom peace and grant it prosperity. Would you grant the Kingdom, its leaders and its people, the courage to take bold action, the blessing of security and would you protect them all from the scheme of anyone who would seek to cause them harm. Would you bring Vision 2030 to full fruition and grant the next generation of Saudis every blessing of the future built upon the best of the past.
Like the Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to his friends in Greece just about 2,000 years ago, “may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”
Amen and Merry Christmas.
• Rev. Johnnie Moore is the president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and founder of The KAIROS Company.