So when you are jolly and joyful with a Ho Ho Ho and a Fa La La La La, stop and remember that your experience doesn't stand for everybody. Be careful of what you post. Be sensitive in what you say. Someone else may not have received the blessings you enjoy.
When you squeeze your loved ones tight and wish them a Merry Christmas, remember those who have experienced unspeakable loss over the past year and are facing this season without joy, but with mourning. And pray for them.
When your kids stream in from college and you are so glad to have your family together again, remember those whose children refuse to come home. Or may never come home. Pray for them.
When your family gathers around a table laden with steamy comfort foods and cups of good cheer, remember those who sit and eat. Alone. And pray for them.
When you open your door to welcome in aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents, remember those who have no aunts or uncles or cousins or grandparents or family of any kind. And pray for them.
When you anticipate a time of great peace and joy in your home, remember those whose homes are filled with no peace or joy, only fighting, neglect and abuse of all kinds. And pray for them.
When your daughter shows up squealing in delight at the gift of shiny engagement ring and the prospect of an upcoming wedding, remember those who have no prospects. And pray for them.
When you offer up a toast in holiday cheer, remember those whose lives are torn apart by the abuse of drink or drugs. And pray for them.
When you lie in your cozy bed in your warm house, remember those who have no warm place to sleep. And pray for them.
When you sit by the fire and read stories to your children, remember those who are sitting by the bedside of a dying loved one, knowing that this will be their last Christmas together. And pray for them.
When you think back on all the warm memories of Christmas of your childhood, remember those who have no such memories, only a hollow emptiness. And pray for them.
When you watch "It's a Wonderful Life" for the 17th time and you get to the part where George Bailey thinks he is worth more dead than alive and plans to jump to his death off the bridge, only to have his plan thwarted by the angel Clarence, remember that for many people life seems just that hopeless, but Clarence never comes. And pray for them.
When you are tempted to get totally caught up in it all and you settle in to the comfort of all your blessings, remember that there are those who have no visible blessings in their lives. And pray for them.
We seem to be all about news at Christmas. But the Good News isn't really about family and friends and food and presents at all. The Good News is that Jesus came for us. And he came for them. He came to seek and save that which was lost. He came to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. He came to be a light in the darkness, a beam of glimmering hope in the darkest of corners of humanity. He came to welcome the weary and break the yoke of oppression. He came so that sin and anger and abuse and heartbreak and loneliness will not have the final say.
This alone is the reason to rejoice. For you. For me. And for them.
O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.