When the holiday dinner scene freezes, as our ears digest reaction-inducing chatter intended to hurl us into a fury, everything in us wants to give in and let the lid off. Sometimes, even our efforts to back peacefully away from conflict end in a confrontational chase for answers. From new offenses to old skirmishes, reuniting with family over the holidays can be full of drama.
Family, “a group of persons of common ancestry.” (Merriam Webster) When family attacks, it’s hard to hide. They’ve known us our entire lives, and share fragments of the very blood that runs through our veins. What we know about God is that He places people in our lives purposefully, regardless of how difficult they are to be around. Exodus 20:12 commands, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”
“Honor,” in its Hebrew meaning, has a heaviness and a weight to it. The root of the word leads to another powerhouse …”glory.” Though not all relatives are our parents, employing a similar thread of obedience can allow us to experience peace with in our extended families. Focusing on the fact that our relatives are a part of our lives, over whether we want them to be lends us a clearer perspective in how to get along as a family. In a sense, we are all drafted of the same ancestry, our immediate family line being the most reachable branches.
The holiday seasons lends new understating to God’s command to pray without interruption. The minute we break ties with His peace, calamity and worry seep in through the cracks in our psyche. It’s difficult to maintain a prayerful discipline amidst a normal routine, but the holiday hustle makes it even harder to concentrate our focus on Him.
“Pray continually.”A simple way to stay centered on Christ throughout the holidays is by placing this verse within eyesight. Write it out on notecards, in red and green for the season. Start a simple word doc and type this verse out a number of times, pasting Christmas inspired images before printing them. Stick each copy of this Scripture in visible places passed often throughout the day. On coffee grounds containers, as bookmarks, stuck in wallets or vehicle cup holders, or attached to the computer screen. Write it on mirrors or decorative chalkboards with craft markers to interrupt our business with a pause to pray.
The holiday season lends Christians the opportunity to extend the love of Christ more than the usual weekend experience. ‘Christ’ resides in ‘Christ’mas, in more ways than one. By knowing how Christ intended to draw hearts to freedom through salvation, we can be better equipped to offer an authentic experience to those that are visiting our church, or experiencing church for the first time.
Whether visitors are here visiting the “other” side of their extended family, or just stumbling in fresh off the moving truck to a new hometown, it’s important for all to feel included. They should be able to walk into any church and feel like family, whether it’s their first time or thousandth time in church.
“He came! He came!” My husband and I hold tight to the memory of our toddler discovering presents under the Christmas Tree. Presents aren’t the point of Christmas or the Christmas Tree, but the Greatest Gift is. Largely associated with the Christian celebration of Christmas, the traditionally adorned tree is now shared by many backgrounds of faith and holiday celebrations. In the Bible God compares himself to a tree:
“I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit.” –Hosea 14:8b
The evergreen tree is a fitting representation of the long-withstanding love of God, and the gift of His Son born unto us. Angie Mosteller, celebratingholidays.com, writes: “Though there may be disagreement on when the tradition of Christmas trees first started, the case is certainly strong for both a German and a Christian origin. As might be expected, the popular carol ‘O Christmas Tree’ (‘O Tannenbaum’ in German) also had its beginning in Germany.” The history of the Christmas Tree is not something everyone agrees on, but here are many of the roots that water the age-old tradition.
Divorce doesn’t have to be the crushing end to all Christmas traditions. Hope does not have to fade as the picturesque view of a familiar life wanes. Christmas is the celebration of the hope Jesus brought into the world with His infant cries.
Hope lives in Jesus-filled hearts.
1. Don’t Let it Define You
Both Christian and agnostic folks have an opinion about the right or wrong of marriages that end in divorce. The holiday season brings them all together and sits them down right in front of you with a stage to speak their truth. Don’t be defined by it.