Dr. Stanley Spence, Pastor First Baptist Church, Lincolnton, N.C.
Thanksgiving is upon us and soon Christmas. It is one of the most interesting times of the year. Emotionally, families are closer to each other. The exception to this rule now involves the COVID-19 virus. Those whose families gather together getting along reasonably well during the year usually have a favorable time. Sometimes, they are closer than usual because the family has survived a trauma during the year.
Other families experience just the opposite. When they cannot get along all year, they gather together during the holidays to see if good cheer can be contagious and mend broken relationships that haven’t been mended all year. Rarely does it fix anything. Estranged people together at Thanksgiving and Christmas in hopes of a holiday miracle rarely have it turn out that way. I love the Norman Rockwell painting of everyone together, the perfect picture of family, smiles, and food. But, when there is no effort the rest of the year to make damaged relationships work out, there is most often a disappointment to follow the gathering. People’s hopes and expectations weren’t met.
There is one lesson these fractured families can teach us: it is hope; hope that maybe, just maybe, there can be a breakthrough that surprises everybody...and, you know, with a gift in your hand when you come; that’s a good way to start. In this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are faced with opportunities for restoring relationships that have not been tended, much less mended, over the past few years.
The question is: who prepares for all this mending to take place? Only you can prepare yourself for mending your relationship difficulties; and the best way I know to do that is to become acquainted with the greatest relationship ‘mender’ ever--God! Prepare to meet your relatives by meeting your God first. If you need humbling, He can do it to you. If you need courage, He can give it to you. If you need support, He can give it to you. If you need someone to prepare the way, He can prepare the way. God cares about you and for you. Once you acknowledge your need for God and surrender to him, you can meet these holiday opportunities with grace--He gives that, too! When you experience a mending of your relationship with God, others will experience a desire to mend their relationships as well. Now that’s a gift worth showing up with at any family gathering.
Have a great holiday this Thanksgiving, and remember from whom your true gifts come.
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