Alice C. Linsley
I lived in Iran during the time of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. I rented an apartment from a Jewish family whose ancestors had been brought to Isfahan by Nebuchadnezzar's conquering army. This family lived on the ground floor of the house and I lived in the flat above. There was an open central area that joined the two residences. It allowed cooking smells and sounds of famiy life to rise and fall, so my experience was more like communal living.
The biggest problem with this arrangement came when we played our music. From below came the sounds of Iranian pop, passionate and guttural, trills abounding. It was foreign to my western ears and at times annoying, but no more annoying than my music must have sounded to my landlords. I listened to Mahalia Jackson, soft jazz, and my favorite Christmas music in December.
The soft jazz and Mahalia Jackson usually had competition from below, but strangely, this never happened when I played Christmas carols. As it turned out, the family knew about Christmas and not only tolerated the music, but actually enjoyed listening to it!
One day, I ran into the owner as I was leaving the building. He said in broken English: "You like Christmas? Christians is people of Christmas, no?"
I nodded and fled to my car parked in the narrow alley. I hoped to avoid a conversation about dueling tunes. What a shame! I missed an opportunity to share the real meaning of Christmas with a man whose ancestors had been taken from the land where Abraham's Horite people lived in expectation of the appearing of the Son of God.
In truth, Christians are Christmas people and we ought always to be ready to proclaim that the Son of God has come in the flesh and by His flesh He has redeemed the world. Nations rise and fall. Peoples are separated from their lands. Betrayals abound, but the promise God made in Eden (Gen. 3:15) is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. That, my friends, is good news of great joy!
Related reading: Egypt in the Christmas Narrative