Soon we were involved in a stimulating discussion about bombing Syria. We all decided we were against it, as violence never solves anything. Some of the girls knew from personal experience.‘So, what have you been up to’, said the hairdresser, ‘done anything nice?’
‘Well’, I said, ‘I have just come back from India. I have been visiting a project empowering women in Jharkhand.’‘How long were you there?’
‘Just a week, it would have been longer but it was Diwali.’‘What’s Diwali, I’ve never heard of that?’
‘It’s like our Christmas’.‘When do they have their Christmas then?’
‘They don’t celebrate Christmas, Diwali is a Hindu festival.’‘Oh, I thought everybody celebrated Christmas.’
‘Christmas is a Christian festival, and they are Hindus.’‘I never knew that Christmas is a Christian festival. Does that mean its about Jesus? Don’t get me wrong - I’m a Christian, but I don’t go to church. I suppose we had a nativity at school, but I haven’t heard anything about it since then.’
As I left the shop with my hair matching the Christmas spirit, I reflected on our conversation. Why would anyone know that Christmas has anything to do with Jesus? Surely its all about food and coloured lights – oh, and shopping!I realised with a shock how easy it is to be cosy inside our churches and assume that everyone thinks the same as we do. How are we going to tell them?
I am now sitting here, about to sign the President and Vice President's Christmas cards, 'May the peace of the Christ-child be yours this Christmas'. I am wondering, what will be our message to the people of Syria this Christmas?