Christmas season is strongly upon us. We are most of the way through Advent in the church, last minute shoppers are preparing to step it up this week, and all the Christmas tree lots have come down. We are in the eye of the season. As I look around and listen to the noises of the season, I hear a great deal of joy and happiness. People are decorating, going out, lighting up their houses, singing songs of the season, and shopping. In one sense there is a real spirit of joy.

However, I am also hearing other voices. I hear voices of parents with grown children who will not come home this year. I am aware of the silent voices that will welcome Christmas without a loved one who has passed away recently. There are the broken families, broken people, people who have no family. While the season comes like a beautiful wave for most, it can come like a hurricane for others. The thoughts and fears that are kept at bay most of the year are forced to the surface by the nature of the season.

What is our response as Christians? Do we mute our celebrations? Do we dim the lights a bit and curb our enthusiasm? Not at all. I believe that our response is the same as it is all year long. That is to keep our ears and eyes open and be lovingly aware of those around us. This is the season of Christ’s incarnation in our world. In the purest spirit of the season, we may be called to be Christ is someone’s life. At the very least, we may be called to respond like Christ.

Enjoy the season. Rejoice greatly for it is a season worthy of celebration. Give generously. But remember that sometimes the greatest gifts are not the ones we buy at a store. Rather, they are the ones that come from our hearts. Pay attention to those around you and be ready to give a prayer, an invitation, a hug, or even a smile. The season is about the one who lives in us and about letting Him live out through us. Wishing all of you a very merry Christmas.