Her name was Noor. She was curious, compassionate and smart. She was pursuing on a Phd in math in France, far from her Damascus home. She and my wife, Ann, had talked about family, faith, the growing fear in Syria and hope for the future. Having asked her a number of questions, Ann backed off a bit and said, “Do you have any questions for me?”
Noor paused, maybe wondering if it was ok to possibly shame her new friend with what she was really wondering, then decided it was worth the risk, “Do you guys really think Jesus is the son of God?”
This was no theological smackdown. No apologetic challenge. Rather, a brow-furrowed, cautious inquiry. “Can someone as kind as you, think something as gross and terrible as what I’ve been taught you think?”
Ann replied brilliantly, “Yes, we do. But not the way you think we do.” Noor’s raised eyebrows invited her to continue. “We believe it was a miracle. The Holy Spirit came over Mary. There was nothing sexual.”
You could almost see the weight lift from Noor. “That’s what we believe. That it was a miracle!”
Like many Muslims, she’d been taught that Christians think God and Mary hooked up and had little baby Jesus. Can you imagine how that colors what they see at Christmas? What they might think of people who claim to love and follow Jesus?
Muslims and Christians have deep and important differences in how we think about God, but on this we concur: Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin. We also agree that this little Christmas baby grew up to alter the course of history. And that he’ll return someday to consummate the purposes of God.
For further evidence of Ann’s brilliance, check out her new blog on life, hospitality and rehabbing houses.