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No-Rooz (literally “New Day”), the Iranian New Year, shares some of the same symbols that Christians have at Easter. The freshness of spring-time flowers, decorated eggs, sweet treats, and growing wheat sprouts (like I’ve seen old farmers do in the West) are inter-cultural symbols of new joy, new hope and new life. So it was quite natural, when I presented a small No-Rooz gift to an Iranian shop-keeper, to talk about Jesus. I told him that in celebration of this season of newness, I included some words of Jesus with the gift, since Jesus talked a lot about new life. The shop-keeper thankfully accepted the gift with the Bible which pointed to Jesus’ promise that in the “new heaven and new earth... the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them... there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain... I am making everything new!” (Rev 21:1-5).

The next time I went to his shop, he generously filled my shopping bag with new specialty goods that arrived for No-Rooz. He repeatedly insisted that I need not pay for it, he was just giving it to me as a gift, and I knew that he was joyfully reciprocating the generosity that he had experienced. Whether he realized it or not, everything he had including his very life as well as the offer of new life was a generous gift from God our loving heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.

Let us pray for this shop-keeper and other Iranians that they would look to Jesus as more than a mere symbol of a good life, but as the Ultimate Source and fulfillment of New Life.