We first thought that the little plastic tree in our living room would be the only visible symbol of Christmas for us in Turkey. But we were wrong! In this part of Istanbul where many foreigners live and work and shop, decorations are seen throughout the main square. One of the big Turkish celebrations -Kurban Bayram (Sacrifive Celebration)- also happens to be just a couple days before dec 25 this year and so most main streets are lit up with lights and colorful decorations, you can even see some nicely decorated christmas trees in the lobbies of some big hotels. And of course Taksim Square is overly lit up (is that english? who cares, i'm not writting an essay) but it's beautiful because lights in the night shine bright, they're happy, hopeful and inspire expectation.
Advertisements for 'A RAM FOR 120 TURKISH LIRAS' are seen throughout the city at this time of year. People will kill and roast for this holiday. I remember seeing big animals roasting in the middle of the streets once a year in africa, mostly in the muslim areas of the city and was facinated by it.
Last night my friend Etkin invited me for dinner. She is not a believer and is a young Turkish lady that was raised in the states. She moved to Istanbul last summer and we 'randomly' met in a store one day. Over the delicious dolma she had made we started talking about the amazing similitude with this coming up holiday and Christmas. The need for sacrifice, this 'sacrifice' phenomena found in almost every civilization that has ever existed. A universal need for atonement. And finally Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, the perfect one- as it had to be a man to pay in man's place and it had to be God to satisfy God's justice. We have had many discussions over the last 5 months but never so deep and so clear. That night I told her how much it meant to me to share with her what my faith is about. That it is not a god I have made for myself, the result of many years of reading, meditating and inquiring. It's the God that reveals himself, the God that speaks and is very clear. It's the God of the Bible that transcends the finite and the temporal. In him we find what Adam lost. Once he decided to act separately from God he lost his freedom; he became attached to his belly button and realized he was naked. This yearning for freedom from this world, from death and from ourselves is found in this once and for all sacrifice.
Jediah and I have been dreaming of meeting up with my parents, brother, sister and her husband at my greand parents in France for christmas but were so short of funds we were left with our dreams only... As days passed, hope started growing faint but lo and behold God had not forgotten about lil jed and sarah all the way in Turkey!!!! (surprise, surprise) A dear friend from the States announced that he wished to buy us tickets. what a treat. I think it will be great to be outside of the country for a little while. we'll return on the 4th. And so sunday we will fly to Paris, monday train to Port Boulet, then back to Paris at my sister's for a few days and finally a train to the south (nimes) to spend the begining of the new year with dear friends there.
Please pray for our time at my grand parents who are not believers. They are the best, most fun, italian old couple you could ever imagine, i'll try to upload a pic of them.