The Thanksgiving holiday is a wrap. Perhaps you enjoyed leftovers from a hearty meal of family favorites or packed some for the freezer to enjoy in January.  Social media posts with photos showed tablescapes with Great-grandmother’s china and harvest arrangements. Some chose to celebrate at the beach while others had a crowd of twenty assembled for a feast. Now, many of us move with full speed into preparations for Christmas.

I recently finished another season of facilitating Grief Support for Spouses, all of whom are facing Christmas in a new place as a single. In our conversations and sharing, the contrasts of the season became apparent, as they remembered past holidays and considered the present. Years ago, I wrote Christmas Contrasts as I was navigating a new Christmas season and I’ll share it here with you.

CHRISTMAS CONTRASTS

Christmas–we sing carols, gather with family and friends for celebration, exchange gifts, and send cards giving our latest news. Yet, in our festivities, we may forget that:

While someone is laughing, someone is grieving.

While someone is busy planning, someone feels numb and lonely.

While someone sets a table for many, someone sets a table minus one.

While someone celebrates, someone is hurting.

While someone decorates with tinsel and lights, someone else’s sparkle has been diminished.

While someone opens gifts, someone knows one of their most precious gifts is gone.

While someone writes a card or letter, someone has signed it with one less signature.

While someone looks forward to new experiences, someone see them as a future loss not shared with one they love.

While someone is out shopping for the perfect gift, someone is maintaining a hospital vigil, a less than perfect day.

The word Selah in the Bible refers to a pause; a place to stop, look up, or listen. In some ways it is a call to stop long enough to be aware of the meaning of what you’ve read and be refreshed and reminded,

As we think of a December Selah, can we take time to stop and notice someone who needs refreshment? Could we offer a pause to refresh someone who is in challenging and less than festive circumstances this season?

Circumstances such as death of a loved one are irreversible, but could you be an instrument to offer strength and comfort to a grieving person–or encouragement to someone facing a serious illness, by letting them know you care? Perhaps they are caregivers and nearing exhaustion. A call, visit, or card can be a comfort.  A meal could offer relief and one less thing to think about.

And, when you don’t know how to specifically pray, consider filling in that person’s name in the apostle Paul’s prayer and pray for them. Who comes to mind today?

 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)

As another Selah, there are resources on this site for your personal refreshment  or to share:

  • Christmas Hope, by Marilyn Nutter and April White is a free downloadable book of Advent Readings. Click on this page and scroll down to Freebies.
  • For those grieving, you can click here to read articles and share
  • And, if you read one chapter a day of the Gospel of Luke, beginning December 1, you will read the entire book, pondering the life of Jesus, finishing on December 24th.

One of the most profound announcements in Scripture is Matthew 1:23 (NIV) “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). In our distractions and busyness, let’s plan to pause and ponder the power and love in those words.

Blessings as you walk through this season giving and receiving comfort and joy. May December be a Selah for you and those you love.

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