I played soccer with Jesus yesterday while Chef loaded baggage into our car. My 2 1/2 year old opponent spoke little English but his beautiful brown eyes and quick smile stole my heart immediately. Little boys and grandmas need few words when a ball is available. The other adults managed the packing up to move this family who came to America and found there was no room at the inn. I played soccer with Jesus who’s family worships a different path to God. His mama doesn’t call him Jesus but my soul knew.
This couple, highly educated, came to study at Purdue and found themselves the victim of a fraud. Their housing agreement, paid in advance didn’t exist. No room at the inn. God was watching though as He guided them to the doorsteps of a member of our church who has been sheltering them for a week, establishing them at the university and setting up banking. His skills at maneuvering those systems as well as his apartment that was free for a week must be God showing off. Our extra beds close to the school, our habit of taking in strangers, our nest newly emptied, God clearly is guiding this Islamic Mary and Joseph on their journey. We are honored to provide a safe haven for weary travelers in a strange land with the blessings God has given to us. Isn’t this God’s house anyway?
As we navigated food and customs and acclimating a child to our rather large beasts, I heard Jesus call me Auntie. He calls for me, of course I come. So easy to answer any call when the voice is that of a child. God knows how to talk to my soul. We ate pizza, not the best way to welcome them but we were all exhausted. The banana I sliced for him became our game, another way to connect. We adults are finding our voices with each other, Jesus and I are already communicating well. I looked at this family sitting at my table, breaking pizza together, knew it was thanksgiving early. I knew it was grace. How to stop hate in our world? How to stop the polarization, the labeling, the separation into groups based on religion or gender or who one loves? Invite Jesus to play soccer. Then have some pizza. It really doesn’t have to be harder than that.
Soon they will be settled in their campus housing, the 6 months they are here will fly by. I believe they will return and tell stories of Jesus worshipping people who took them in, then sent them to the next family who worships Jesus. They may tell stories of hospitality and grace that will shed light into who we as Christians are, who we are meant to be. Christians who try hard to follow the teachings of Jesus and follow that entertain strangers bit. We will tell stories of God’s glory in guiding Mary and Joseph and little Jesus on a journey. One story at a time, we might just spread love.