For most of us, the Christmas season is a beautiful opportunity to stop at the end of a busy season, reflect, reset, be refreshed and renewed. But when it comes to our relationships, there are three more postures we can consider.

Reconnect

There is a phenomenon in friendship called relational decay’, based on the notion that the sands of time and miles of geography do to our connections, what the failure of brushing and lack of dental hygiene do to our teeth. 

Our diaries resemble peak commuter trains, with little space to maintain relationships. Enter Christmas. The days around 25 December in my calendar are an oasis of head and heart space. Seasonal gatherings give precious opportunity to reconnect and reignite conversations with friends and family that keep the relational fires alive. It’s so important not to miss these moments, but I would also encourage you to make room for more disconnected friendships, where there is a chance of further decay if another year goes by. One of the gifts of this season is time and space. Invest it in a friend who needs it.

Reconcile

I have observed that part of the beauty of Christmas is that we are far more open to human connection than normal. You can say, Happy Christmas’ to staff at your local supermarket, a nightmare neighbour or complete strangers on the street, from around 5 December onwards and almost guarantee that they will smile and warmly return the greeting. Greet that same person a month later and you may be lucky to receive a grunt of acknowledgment.

This window of seasonal social softening also creates moments to forgive fractures and right wrongs. At the heart of the Christmas story is the King who enters our world in fragile humanity to bridge the gap between our broken hearts and his relentless love: Peace on Earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled”. If there is distance between you and a friend or relative this Christmas, perhaps it is time to offer a hand of restoration. In doing so, you will be embodying the original script of the word becoming flesh, full of grace and truth. They may well be more open than you might think.

If there is distance between you and a friend or relative this Christmas, perhaps it is time to offer a hand of restoration.

Reach out

A friend of mine recently conducted some research that found that, if invited, 78% of students would come to church — at any time. Christian identity may be on the decline in the UK, but the Christmas season, for so many, is the annual appointment with a church service. As I regularly pray for my neighbours and friends, it is probably the easiest invite of the year.

Churches do Christmas well. If you have friends who don’t yet know the baby in the manger, or the Saviour He became, take the opportunity to invite them to hear the good tidings He brings for them and their kin. If your church is running a Christianity Explored, Alpha Course, or similar in the new year, these services are also an excellent bridge.

There have been few years in my lifetime where the shores of my social media newsfeed have been hit with so many storms. In these fractured times we need each other and the God who became a baby to be with us when the waters rise and flood our lives. May you know today the presence of Emmanuel, reconciliation and deep connection. Happy Christmas. 

The power of hello

The power of hello

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He is my comfort during the holiday blues

He is my comfort during the holiday blues

Nicola Morrison shares how we can look to God when struggling with grief at Christmas