The holiday season is the best and worst time of year. Many love it. They see family, buy gifts, and enjoy special traditions, meals and moments, but many dread it. The season reminds them of broken relationships, family strife, missed opportunities, and financial stress.
Just after Thanksgiving, the daughter of a good friend of mine experienced the dark side of the holidays in the most tragic way. It’s her first year in college, and two of her sorority sisters made attempts on their own lives. One was successful, and one is in critical condition. Please pray for their families. My friend’s daughter, in the midst of her first stress filled finals season, experienced the unspeakable grief of mourning two close friends.
May we remember that Jesus is still King. A few nights ago, I enjoyed a Christmas party hosted by a local recovery ministry. We ate food, played games, and received gifts, but that was not the best part of the evening. The highlight of the night came when the men and women who’d completed the program shared the hope and joy they’d found in Christ and gave God glory for the support they found. People, who a few years ago slept in jail or on the street, stood before the group and shared the new life they’d found in Christ. For them, this Christmas meant more to them than many in the past. From living alone on the streets to sharing a home with their spouses, they’d discovered the true restorative power of God’s love and grace that came to earth so many years ago in a baby born in Bethlehem.
Churches must remember their people experience the holiday season in different ways and churches must make space for all. Paul tells us in Romans 15 to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” This holiday season we must celebrate with those who celebrate and sit in silence with those stuck in sadness.
This December, let us create opportunities for our staff and volunteers to celebrate the glorious birth of our Savior, and let us take time to remember those in our midst who can’t find joy this season. Let us keep our eyes and hearts open to the people in our lives. Let us be the light in the darkness. Let us be the ones who lend our hands and our ears to those who’ve been beaten down by the harshness of this world.