By James Townsend, vice president for admissions and marketing at Goshen College
Reprinted from Advent
Have you ever lived in a community where you knew the people who lived next door and across the street or hall? For me growing up, it seemed that living near to someone meant doing life together. I remember my parents talking with neighbors on a regular basis – at home, at the grocery store, at church and at numerous places of business. Yet looking back I realize how protected and sheltered I was to people different than myself. We only recognized the holidays that we cared about, were only concerned about the traditions we inherited or started, only worshipped the way we were taught and only served people who looked much like we did.
In college this changed a bit when I lived with someone who was not a family member and didn’t have the same beliefs, traditions and attitudes that my family and I had growing up. It was the first time I remember having to allow for other versions of “community” life. Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to work with people who I don’t look like, don’t act like, don’t share common beliefs with or honor similar traditions, and these years have been some of the best of my life because I have been able to see Christ through sameness and differences.
Do you have someone in your community that you don’t look like, talk like, share beliefs with, celebrate the same holidays, or has a different political view than you? Take time to celebrate that diversity – knowing that God is present in all cultures and people. And during this Advent season, may the Holy Spirit bless you and your family with a spirit of unity and harmony.
Romans 15:4-13 (NRSV)