Today I had the wonderful privilege of speaking at the local school nativity play (Gors Community School). To me nobody brings home the message of Christmas like children. I spoke about Jesus bringing light into the darknes of our world and leading us closer to God. I used a small candle to represent Jesus - small, fragile, yet bright - and encouraged those present to follow Him into the light so that as lights together we can push back the darkness.
Afterwards I met two Moslem women, complete with headscarves, one of whom I recognised and who I later found out works in my local Marks & Spencers where I occasionally shop. The younger woman introduced her mother who is over from Iraq. She unfortunately does not speak much english and relies on her daughter to do all the translating. But she recognised the story and she recognised Jesus - whom they call Isa - and hearing the familiar story felt very much at home. She wanted to thank me and reassure that the talking that was going on while I was speaking was not from them but by some rude couple behind them. She, and her daughter, were very grateful for what I said.
They were as lovely and friendly pair of ladies you could ever wish to meet and were a timely reminder that we should never brand any of the major religions as bad or evil for fear of missing the fact that there are good people there. Unfortunately every religion - including Christianity - has adherents who are hungry for power and will try and exploit their religion for their own ends. But at the heart of every religion there are also those with a good heart, people who are genuinely seeking God and demonstrate it through their kindness and humility. It is essential therefore that we avoid the danger of tarring them with the same brush as the more viscious and cruel extremists who maim, kill or persecute in order to achieve their own personal selfish ends.
God was there today and my prayer is always that I will be able to see Him in some way. Well I did, not only in the children but in the two polite and kindly strangers from another religion who came to speak to me and thank me for my message.