Rita Stone Smith
One of life’s simplest pleasures this time of year is spending quality time with friends and family and appreciating the joy of being together. But the spirit of Christmas is lost when we don’t slow down from the mania of trying-to-get-it-all-done. We lose sight of what’s important when we fail to connect with those we love and don’t reach out to those we don’t yet know.
Beyond his followers, Jesus’ compassion and love touched the lives of strangers far and wide, especially those in need. He took the time to heal and minister to people he didn’t know, minister to people he didn’t know and he even invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house as he was passing through Jericho. Imagine Jesus unexpectedly telling you that he’s staying at your house today! (Luke 19).
As you celebrate the birth of Jesus this year, be encouraged to extend beyond your circle of friends and introduce someone new into your fold. Venture outside your comfort zone and connect with a new co-worker or church member–or reconnect with a family member you’ve not spoken to in a long while. Christmas is a wonderful time to mend relationships. Whatever caused the rift in your family pales in comparison to the love and grace originated from the birth of Jesus. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Gathering together can be as complicated or as simple as you make it. If hosting a Christmas party triggers the notion to fake an illness and put yourself on bedrest for a month, then maybe you should create a less aggressive goal. Bringing on Christmas anxiety is not what we’re looking for here. A true connection with someone only takes time, a spirit of love, and a heart for compassion and mercy. And quite honestly, that can happen in your home, on your porch or in a Starbucks.
So invent a new tradition for you and your family. Cordially invite someone over and get to know her. Though she’ll be blessed by your generosity, don’t be surprised if the heart that’s forever changed by all this is yours.