As Christmas approaches, enveloping us in the heart of the winter holidays, the atmosphere resonates with the sweet melody of joy and anticipation. Streets are alive with twinkling lights, and the delightful aroma of festive treats permeates the air. This season is a time of celebration, marked by the gathering of families and the reunion of friends, all sharing in laughter and creating cherished memories.
So, as we find ourselves amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, I want to take a moment to check in with you. Have you been able to pause amid the festivities? Can you still your mind to reflect on the deeper significance of this season, looking beyond the glittering decorations and extravagant feasts? In our culturally diverse nation, where many of us celebrate more than one winter holiday—be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the New Year, or others — the winter holidays not only provide us with the opportunity to celebrate but also extend an invitation to embrace the virtues of rest and nurturing relationships.
In our hectic lives, the call to rest echoes with particular resonance during the winter season. It is a time when nature itself takes a pause, with trees shedding their leaves, and the earth entering a period of hibernation in many ways. In the quiet of winter, we find a profound lesson — a reminder that rest is not only a physical necessity but a spiritual one. God, in His infinite wisdom, designed a rhythm of work and rest, and the winter holidays provide a unique chance to align ourselves with this divine cadence.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus extends a gracious invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV). The winter holidays are an opportune time to heed this invitation, to lay aside the burdens of the year gone by, and to find rest in the loving embrace of our Savior. In the stillness of the season, we can draw near to God, seek solace in His presence, and allow Him to replenish our weary souls.
In the book of Exodus, we are reminded of God’s commandment to observe the Sabbath: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8 NIV). While the winter holidays may not be a Sabbath in the traditional sense, they provide a similar opportunity to set aside time for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation.
However, as we embrace the restful aspect of the winter holidays, let us not forget the second dimension that makes this season truly special — the chance to deepen our connections with family and friends. God created us to live in community, and our relationships are a precious gift from Him. The holidays offer a unique backdrop for fostering these connections; for in the warmth of shared celebrations, we find the space to nurture our relationships on a deeper level.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, we are reminded of the value of companionship: “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV). The winter holidays present a golden opportunity to be that helping hand, to share in each other’s joys and burdens, and to strengthen the bonds that make life richer.
As we engage in the festivities of the season, let us be intentional about creating moments of connection, whether it’s through a shared meal, a heartfelt conversation, playing games together, or a simple act of kindness. These small gestures can have a lasting impact. Paul encouraged the Colossians to “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16 NIV). Let our gatherings be infused with the love of Christ, creating an atmosphere where His message is richly reflected in our interactions.
Before the winter holiday season warms into spring, remember to welcome its invitation to rest and nurture the relationships that grace our lives. In the quiet moments of reflection and the joyous celebrations with loved ones, may we embrace the gifts of the season — rest, rejuvenation, and deepened connections. Let us be mindful to balance the festivities with moments of serenity, creating a harmonious blend that leaves us rested, nurtured, and loved.