The Zebra Crossing, a sensitively re-furbished century-old Yorkton home, hosts several businesses these days. But I recall it best when customers came for rooibos tea and conversation. Sat at glass tables and tall iron chairs. Ate paninis, gorgeous salads, decadent desserts and spread linen napkins on their laps.
The Crossing occasionally held evening by-ticket only functions. Dessert, entertainment, and great conversation. One Christmas the owner asked me if I’d emcee one of those evenings; a night of readings, music and dance. An intimate concert—with an African accent. I’ve told my readers about that evening before. Perhaps for my benefit alone, or maybe that of someone who shared that special evening with me, I need to recall it again.
Candles illuminated the tea room, once the gracious living room, and little changed over the years. One primitively carved giraffe lamp with a wide basket-woven shade glowed in the corner, and several small Christmas trees—slender silver rope-wrapped cones—hung with stars that reflected the flickering candles.
The Crossing bulged with its cargo of thirty guests. We clustered around steaming cups of hot apple cider and exquisitely arranged plates of decorated shortbread cookies.
For two and a half hours some of the area’s brightest artistic lights shared their gifts—stories, poetry, music—vocal, guitar and flute, and an exquisitely interpreted ballet number (by a young woman I didn’t know would one day become a friend). The presence of a tiny five-month old infant resting quietly on her mother’s lap lent an almost hallowed atmosphere.
The performers had been asked only to choose pieces with a holiday theme. But almost without exception, they read or performed pieces that reflected the true meaning of Christmas. Not a single mention, that I recall, of the fat guy in the red suit.
Closing the evening, I recited the Christmas story from Luke 2 to a recorded orchestra playing “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem.” Reflected in those candlelit faces, I sensed wistfulness. Longing. Hope. I ended with John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
All evening, but especially then, it felt that the reason for the season had chosen to join us. Jesus, in that very room, fingering the edges of our shop-weary, Christlessmas hearts, and tuning them once more to a genuine Christmas key. Perfect pitch.
This year’s Christmas concerts are over. The gifts are unwrapped, and the turkey picked to the bones. But truth has not left us, nor the Christ whose birth we celebrate. I hope you made some great memories, but I’d like to know…do they include an encounter with the Reason for the season?
No matter our faith–or lack thereof, God never stops reaching for encounter with us. Watch the remarkable story of one young Muslim practicing cultural Jihad in the Bible Belt of America: