Our family is weird.

Yes, it’s a shock.

We identify ourselves as being Christian, but each of our kids have come home from school and said something like the following:  “Only one other kid knew what Hanukkah was – that’s messed up.”  At work, I’m the only one whose daughter made him a Hanukkah card to hang up.

In a round about way this reminds me of a weekend I spent in a small Utah town over the summer.  I attended a beautiful church on Sunday and, as the meeting was getting underway, an elegant gentleman came in and sat behind me.  After the service, he was excitedly introduced to me because of my work with the 99 Names – he was Persian, and the other congregants thought he would enjoy my work.

We visited.  “Yes, I’m Muslim,” he said, “and I come here on Sundays.  There is not a mosque or even another Muslim for miles, as far as I know.  But they are kind to me.  Perhaps it’s because I’m exotic.”  He laughed.  “I read from the Qur’an, they read from the Bible; the pastor here is a wonderful woman, and I have only known male Imams.  Although the language of worship may be different, the message is the same – it is the message of love.”

I asked the pastor how he found himself into her congregation.  “I don’t know, but I am grateful.  We open our doors and our hearts to everyone – if we can’t do that, what good is the church?  And every time we welcome in a new person, we’re so blessed I have no words for it.  And he helps all the older folks with their cars!  (She laughed)  We are all children of the same Creator – of course he’s welcome.  He was welcome before he even showed up.”

Mixing traditions and celebrating the joys of each other is always a wonderful thing.  Every faith tradition has, somewhere within it, a notable dignitary saying about the same thing:  if all the world were filled with just one flower, life would be truly boring.