Christmas Dinner with a Black Man

We had a most unusual Christmas dinner yesterday. Last Sunday at our worship service people were talking about Christmas plans. A single middle-aged black man who has been attending mentioned that he didn’t have anywhere to go on Christmas. We met him several months ago during one of our homeless outreaches. I don’t know his story yet apart that he served four years in the Navy. He’s clearly had some struggles but is a gentle soul and loves to worship with us.


A number of things went through my mind about Christmas and how he might fit in at Christmas dinner with my wife and me. We can’t pretend that there aren’t gaps between us ethnically, economically, and educationally. I knew where he lived and wondered how he would feel coming into our house. I thought how awkward it might be for him or for us but knew that our comfort zone shouldn’t determine whether to invite him to dinner or not. When I asked him if he would be interested he jumped at the chance to come. He only lives ten minutes from us by car but in another neighborhood, one that’s seen better days to say the least. When I picked him up on Christmas Day he was standing outside where he lives with a bag of gifts in hand. I was a little embarrassed because frankly I hadn’t even thought of a gift for him. He gave me a can of leather spray and gave my wife a basket with hand creams.


What can I say? We had a great time. It wasn’t always easy to keep the conversation going since we come from different worlds in many ways. He raved about the meal and seemed to genuinely enjoy being with us without any indication of discomfort on his part. I know that’s how it should be but in the real world it’s not always easy to relate to people with whom we have little in common, at least at first sight. On the way back to his place we talked about what it means to be a member of God’s family, brothers in Christ. And when I think about it that’s what we have in common that really counts. The Apostle Paul tells us that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female … (Gal. 3:28).” Perhaps Paul wouldn’t mind if we added “neither black nor white.” Sure this brother is black and I’m white. Yet in Christ that no longer matters, or shouldn’t anyway.

4 Responses to “Christmas Dinner with a Black Man”

  1. Thanks Steve for sharing your Christmas story with us!

  2. Steve,
    I'm with you, brother.  We reached out to a couple of deaf-mute Latina bag-ladies this Advent.  Know what you mean about keeping the conversation going, but it was worth any awkwardness.  Keep up the good examples you are sharing.  It is great to be reminded of your approach.  Grace.

    I found out he was coming on Christmas Eve and was frankly concerned as to how an "intruder" would fit into our family dinner plans. It was a little awkward at first and I was glad to have a job to do outside (grilling the steaks). But during the meal my whole attitude was changed. I was so happy that he was able to come and eat and spend time with our family who's been blessed by God in so many ways. I'm reminded every Sunday when I go down to the city for worship and ministry (I'm a geek so I help in all techinical areas) how truely blessed I am.
    Seeing a smile on his face and him exclaiming how much he enjoys cooking (was a cook in the Navy) and eating new foods was the point at which I realized what God wanted me to see. We always talk about Christmas being a time of giving. Well I think as simple as this was to do I was letting a man who needed a place to go into my confort zone and had a part in making his day a happy one. It was fun in a different way.
    (Steve is my father)

  4. Glad you enjoyed it, son. Great job on the grilled steaks wrapped in bacon.

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