I love asking people about their favorite family holiday memories. My intrigue, however, is rarely about the memory itself—it’s about the enthusiasm with which the memory is recalled. When people reminisce about the things that used-to-be, their eyes glaze over and a combination of smirks and sighs that hide inside jokes canvas their faces while far-fetchedness gives their story a little extra zing. My mom was the worst/best at this. She grew up in the middle of farmland Wisconsin, so every year we’d hear a new tale that sounded like an exaggerated scene from Little House on the Prairie meets The Waltons.
Memories, especially during Christmas time, are not always pleasant though. For many, it’s painful to look back because, in doing so, there are reminders of how the present is so radically different from the past. Maybe you turn around and remember what it was like when the whole family was together. Or you remember baking cookies, decorating the tree, making snowmen, caroling and then getting stuck in the middle of a blizzard so you had to ride around in a horse-drawn sleigh...okay now I’m starting to sound like Mom.
Some of you remember Christmas before something happened. Before a relationship splintered. Before a promise was broken. Before someone’s sin, maybe their own, ensured things would never be the same.
Or so they thought.
The beauty of Christmas is that the arrival of Jesus also signifies the dawn of reconciliation.
Christ came with a purpose to restore and heal relationships - first with God and then with one another. This means that grace heals everything in you, and grace can heal any broken relationship through you.
If there is a broken relationship in your life, this Christmas can be a time of healing instead of heartbreak. But how do you start?
You have a Model
Jesus is the model of reconciliation. The Apostle Paul wrote, “The old has passed away and the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself (2 Cor 5: 17b-18a).” Christ reconciled sinners by laying himself down for us. He was selfless, humble, and obedient to God. If you want to see a relationship restored, anticipate the same path. It may require a potentially awkward phone call. It might necessitate repentance. It will definitely demand that you walk in humility. However, rejoice! In all this, you are modeling Christ.
You have a Ministry
In the same section of scripture Paul writes, “[Christ] gave us the ministry of reconciliation…entrusting us with the message of reconciliation (2 Cor 5: 18a-19).” I’m about to write something that might make you uncomfortable: You are obligated to reconcile broken relationships. When God made us right with Him, the implicit assumption and command was, “Now go and extend the same grace, love, and patience that I showed you towards others.” The goal is that others will get a glimpse of who God is when they experience reconciliation with you, and will then enjoy reconciliation with Him. Let it not be said of any of us that unrestored relationships are our fault. We have no excuse.
Is there a relationship in your life that needs reconciliation? Is there a parent, sibling, relative, or old friend that you need to make amends with or ask for forgiveness? What’s holding you back this Christmas season? If you don’t know how, look to Christ as your model. If you don’t want to, you should consider again the ministry given to you from God. Who knows what memories might be in your future!