Unwrapping the message of Christmas for our Muslim friends

The Muslim account of Jesus’ birth differs from the Biblical account. In the Qur’an Mary gives birth to Jesus alone under a tree in the desert, and returning with him, is chided as being unchaste by the people. Jesus from his cradle then speaks up in her defence and announces himself to be a prophet.

As this time of year is full of social invitations and gift-giving it is a great time to extend love to your Muslim friends by inviting them to your house. Gentle ways of talking about your Christian belief surrounding the birth of Jesus can come about as you explain the symbolism of your Christmas decorations: fairy lights (the Light of the world), angels and shepherds, gift giving (God’s gift to us). It’s a great opportunity to get to know your friend better by asking what Christmas means for them: Muslims will have widely differing understandings of Christmas and views on how much to participate in the celebrations, especially Muslims in the west.

Providing a setting for natural, seasonal conversations may also provide an opening to explore and explain away confusion: Santa is not a biblical part of the Christmas story any more than ice-skating reindeer, dancing snowmen or fir trees. If you judge it appropriate you could also ask if they would like to hear the Christmas story from the Bible - this season gives great opportunities to be a bit bolder.

As you unwrap Christmas with your Muslim friends, remember not to be overfocussed on witnessing - which can come across as needing to ‘win’ converts rather than being interested in relationship. Neither though should we downplay our faith - it will be harder to introduce spiritual matters later in our relationships, and goes against the natural congruence of a Spirit-filled, missional life.

This article is taken from the December issue of ReachAcross News.


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