This time of year, we all pull closer together as families. We come together for Christmas parties, dinner, movies and outings and celebrations.
And yet, some of us have been pushed away by our friends or families. We are not welcome in their homes, in their lives, even perhaps on the phone. This could be for any number of reasons, some more serious than others, and there are legitimate and sensible reasons to keep these people away if they are a danger to your family or friends. Sometimes they should be kept away. This isn't what the following words are about.
This is about brokenness and healing. This involves people who realize they have messed up in their lives, apologize, ask forgiveness, repent, and seek to heal with you as your friends and family. Part of that healing and forgiveness process involves being with you and yours during this time of the year, continuing on and fixing what is broken by rebuilding those relationships that have value.
We hear a running joke at Christmastime about the dysfunctional family gathering, that awkwardness that comes from this person and that person being around. It makes for a great holiday movie. And we also hear and dream of that perfect Christmas celebration, the one with the snow on the ground in the woods and the decorated house with piles of presents surrounding the tree. We smell the gingerbread wafting from the kitchen as our loved ones come through the door in their sweaters -- none ugly -- and embrace with bright countenances. People laugh and smile as they eat and drink and unwrap and make Merry Christmas, a scene as perfect as a Christmas Card. Nothing is wrong, awkward or imperfect. Nothing is dysfunctional, broken or sad.
We are not living in a Christmas card.
We are living in a broken world that needs healing and JESUS, who is the reason for the season in the first place.
This Christmas, many of you are bound to face tough choices as you plan your gatherings about who will and won't be part of your lives at that moment. I challenge you to think beyond hurt and brokenness and consider the lives and the hearts of those whom you might choose to shun because of fallings-out, political differences, or some other pain they may have caused. If those people are willing to ask forgiveness of you, clean up their acts, and mind their words and behaviours, they should be welcome at your gatherings.
JESUS came into this world to wipe away our sins, and heal our hurts and brokenness, provided we give HIM our choice and the opportunity. We follow in that example when we decide that our relationships mean more than our grievances and pain, and we make the choice to forgive when it is asked for, to heal and not to hurt.
If you are not a person of faith, consider this from the perspective of honour. An honourable person realizes that grudges and pain are hypocritical to the theme of a season of love, joy, and giving. Continuing patterns of dysfunctionality do not make this world more honourable at Christmas. We might as well just admit the commerciality of it, as in that line from A Charlie Brown Christmas: "It's run by a big eastern syndicate, you know."
Christmas is a time of coming together. This is a time when we celebrate our SAVIOR and also our relationships. This is a time to rebuild what is broken, just as OUR SAVIOR was sent into the world to do. Let that be on your Christmas list.
This post originally appeared on my Facebook page.