Don't go through the holidays alone
Grit and Grace
December 3, 2022
If I may borrow from Dickens, the holidays can be the best of times and the worst of times.
Holidays can intensify feelings of anxiety and worry for some and for different reasons. The grinch of grief is one culprit who can steel our joy during the holiday season. Some have experienced a death of a family member this year or close friend, or maybe a pet. Some have a child who has joined the military or gone away to college and they have gone through the process of missing them; and for others you've experienced the pain of a breakup or divorce, a loss of a job or financial insecurity. There are many grief producing events in life and the holidays only seem to aggravate them.
Loneliness is a real problem during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The author of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes captures this solitariness in Ecclesiastes 4:8. He writes of a person he describes as, "all alone with no companion." This section of the book is filled with wisdom that describes an Ebenezer Scrooge type. The Message Bible describes him this way: A solitary person, completley alone - no children, no family, no friends - yet working obsessively late into the night, compulsively greedy for more and more, never bothering to ask, "Why am I working like a dog, never having any fun? And who cares?"
In Ebenezer's goal to obtain and keep his riches, without a second thought to human suffering or charity, he cut himself off from real relationships and enjoyment of life. However, it was the Ghost of Christmas Future that gave Scrooge insight into his personal character faults. As he nears to read his own gravestone, he exclaims, "Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be, only?" He desires to know if there is a chance to reverse this sense of regret and loss that he is feeling in the moment.
Relationships and community are important normally, and even more so during November and December. Interpersonal relationships are especially important during times that intensify sadness and grief. The church was meant to gather together on a regular basis for this very purpose of sharing in life together. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near."
I pray and hope from this point forward in this post-pandemic world that we do not take for granted meeting together as a church. Meeting together in community helps remedy loneliness and puts us on a path of healing from loss. One purpose of the church is to be a place of encouragement and a place where we are motivating each other to acts of charity. The church community is a place that helps us become and stay generous. Our church community reminds us that life is more than our career or earthly riches. Church should be a place that provides a place when the question is asked, "Who cares?" Others stand and say, "I do. I care."
If you are more keenly aware of a loss this holiday season, however recent, remember that there is healing in the telling of stories about that person and what they meant to you. I encourage you to tell lots of stories and share positive memories of your time together.
For those of you who have been out of church for a while, I want to ask you to give it another chance. It just may be what you need to get active again in a community of like-minded individuals. Life can be tough sometimes and we all need a community of people who will stand with us and say, "I care." We'd love to invite you to our church this holiday season. We've planned one of our events with you in mind. Please join us for "A Christmas Carol," a timeless tale of redemption by master storyteller Alex Zonn on Friday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 18 at 4 p.m. Coffee and snacks provided at intermission. Admission is free. The address is Mountain Bible Church at 630 Maple St., Tehachapi.
Chris Frost is the pastor of The Mountain Bible Church of Tehachapi, and an on-call chaplain at Adventist Health Hospital where he teaches a monthly Empathy training class. He is a graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary (ThM) and has spoken at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland and worked on projects with Lexham Press and Kregel Academic and is published in Bibliotheca Sacra. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.