We light this candle as a symbol of Christ the Way…

I have a neighbor who lives across the street from me. She is a beautiful woman inside and out. Her children and our boysfrequently play together. Through the years, we have shared a lot of storiesabout our families, our experiences, and our beliefs.

Her family is Muslim. Their home is in Saudi Arabia and her husband is in the states pursuing a doctoral degree. They have seven children; six boys and one girl. My friend wears a niqab, which is a veil that covers her head and face and leaves only her eyes showing.

I remember meeting her for the first time. She waved me over from across the street and tried to ask me what day to put out the trash cans. She spoke no English, so the conversation was complicated. Our trash goes out on Thursday except that week had a holiday and it would go out on Friday instead. Since she didn’t understand English, she sure didn’t understand about American holidays. I walked away from her feeling quite ineffective.

I also remember the first time our boys played together. Alex was so happy to have that many children come and play because it was enough for a baseball game. I remember the first time she came into my home and took off her headscarf and I saw her lovely face. I remember when she introduced me to her Arabic coffee, something I’ve come to appreciate. And I remember well the first time we talked about the differences in our faith.

Over the years, I’ve learned that there are many similarities to my faith and hers. Now, I’m no academic on world religions. Everything I know about her faith is because she’s talked to me about it. But I do know what she believes and how she lives it. And the basic values of being kind to others, being honest, displaying reverence to God, and prioritizing spending time with Him… well, it’s how we both live.

But there’s the difference. And it’s a big one. Jesus is missing. Maybe not completely, because she knows about Jesus. She believes Jesus was a great man with good teachings. But the way she talks aboutJesus and the way I know Jesus, well, it’s just so different.

For me, Jesus is THE WAY to God. When Jesus says, no one comes to the Father except through Me (Luke 14:6), we often think of our eternal home. But I think there’s more to that statement. I think we can’t fully experience the heart of God here – while we are on earth – without knowing Jesus.

Jesus is the human example of the very character of God. His actions and reactions recorded in the Gospel stories are THE WAY to understanding God’s relentless love for us. They are also THE WAY we can know how to respond to that love because His life is something we can follow and imitate.

My neighbor friend and I are similar in so many ways. I love her dearly and I have learned so much from her. I appreciate that God has brought her and her family into my life for a season. We are at a place in our relationship where we tell each other we’d like to see the other on “our side” of the faith thing. We both have deep, significant reasons for believing the way we do. It is unlikely either of us willchange.

But when I leave her house and walk back to mine, I always offer a prayer. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being my WAY to the Father. And may my every word and action reflect the belief I have that You, Jesus, are my WAY. Peace.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel