In Hamtramck, Christmas is different

By Pastor Jay Searcy
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia, Gezur Krislinjden, Cestit Bozic i Sretna Nova godina, Srozhdestvom Kristovym, Shuvo Naba Barsha, Milad Majid, and Merry Christmas.
It is amazing that in a city of no more than 2.2 square miles that any one of the above Christmas greetings can be heard. Though tiny, Hamtramck is in many ways a microcosm of the world. And, as varied as the celebrations of Christmas are around the world, the same holds true for the humble city of Hamtramck.
Ten years ago I accepted a job in Hamtramck at the nursing home near the corner of Holbrook and Conant. Having grown up in a homogenous small town in the south (one stop light and no McDonalds), my first impression of Hamtramck was one of awe and confusion. As I would venture out into the city during lunch my eyes were opened to the great variety of God’s creation. The language, the way people dressed, the smells emanating from the homes and restaurants were all new to me. The kid who had never been outside the borders of the United States, or west of the Mississippi for that matter, was getting a taste for life around the globe.
Over the course of the next seven years of working in Hamtramck my fascination for the people of this city turned quickly to infatuation, and then love. In 2006, just before Christmas, my relationship with the city of Hamtramck culminated as we moved our family of eight from Allen Park into Hamtramck.
Our children have been entranced by the people of the city as well. To see my children’s response to Hamtramck was thrilling, because I was able to relive my initial excitement about the city through them. The diversity of people, dress, food, music, and tradition opened the eyes of my sheltered family. They fell in love as well.
Certainly Hamtramck has many desirable qualities, the most attractive of which is the ability of people from all over the world to live together in peace while exchanging the best that each culture has to offer. In a world filled with violence, distrust and prejudice, Hamtramck presents a model of what a world of diversity could be. Setting our city apart from many around the world, Hamtramck just completed a peaceful and orderly election cycle filled with candidates from several different cultural and linguistic backgrounds—something for which we should all be proud.
At the first Christmas some two thousand years ago the Son of God entered into time and space as a baby accompanied by this angelic announcement, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord… Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 10-11; 14). God’s messengers were proclaiming a lasting peace that only He can offer; a peace through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
As we celebrate Christmas this year in Hamtramck we should be thankful for and strive to promote the peace that we possess in the midst of so much diversity. Though many of our Christmas traditions are different in Hamtramck, this Christmas let us celebrate together one of the traditions we hold in common—a desire for peace.
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia, Gezur Krislinjden, Cestit Bozic i Sretna Nova godina, Srozhdestvom Kristovym, Shuvo Naba Barsha, Milad Majid, and Merry Christmas.

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