SIKESTON -- The holidays often mark a time for togetherness with family and friends. But it can also create a time for individuals with different faiths to intertwine.
Lots of times relatives bring home for the holidays a friend of a different religious background than the rest of the family. Regardless of the religion, they already share some common ground, said David Jackson, associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Sikeston.
"The one basic thing that everyone seeks -- no matter what faith they are or even if they have part of a faith -- is God's love. Everyone wants to be loved," Jackson said.
There are basic ways to express love, Jackson said. Those who have family members can invite individuals who may not have any family members to spend the holidays with them, he said.
To make guests of other faiths feel more comfortable at a holiday family gathering, offer a simple explanation before any religious activity, such as praying, Jackson said.
"If somebody comes from another faith, and your family prays around their meals, calling that person by name shows you care about them and want to get to know them.
"And if you say here's why we do this and we don't want to offend you, but would like you to be a part of that," Jackson said. "Rather than be an outsider, they can choose whether or not to participate."
Explaining the customs in families to somebody outside of the family also creates good conversation, Jackson said. In addition, it allows them to voice their own customs, he said.
"If they have a specific prayer or custom, let them offer it at this time -- and letting others learn about it," Jackson said.
Harriet Craig, minister at Powerhouse of God Church in Sikeston, said human beings are always curious about other people.
"I enjoy meeting new people and finding out about someone who lives differently than myself. And once you learn about other people, I do some studying so when I do come into contact with them, I can find point of reference," Craig said.
Respect someone else who feels passionately about what they believe, Craig said.
"Always when you come in contact with someone of a different faith, be respectful of what they believe," Craig said.
Never belittle someone else's beliefs, Craig said.
"Everyone has a choice to believe what they want o believe; however, if the opportunity prevails that I can win someone to Christ, of course, I'm going to do that," Craig said.
Craig said she thinks it's OK to ask another person about their faith.
"It's always good to research why someone believes what they believe and what that is. It opens up the opportunity for discussion," Craig said.
Spending time with each other, learning and sharing each other's values and explaining those develops relationships, Jackson said.
"We were created to develop relationships," Jackson said. "When you develop relationships, it's pleasing for everybody."