Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
- James 1:27
And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
- Zechariah 7:8-10
I run the risk here of being negative, so close to Christmas, but I think we must not be insensitive in our holiday revelry that we forget those who are saddened by this season. Those that are definitely not ‘merry.’ I am not just talking about the Christmas blahs. That usually comes from those involved in the revelry. They become sad afterwards, because they ignored the reason for the season. Jesus, in our hearts, can produce a lasting gift of Joy. But relying upon a cheerful holiday to boost our spirits is a fool’s errand. For the next day, even the afternoon of Christmas after you’ve had a big meal and you’ve opened the presents, you realize that getting something under the tree was not the answer to the happiness that you seek. Even true believers can fall into the trap.
No, I have met so many people lately who have not had one scintilla of Joy leading up to the holiday. There are so many reasons, but here are a few.
This is not a recent memory, but it illustrates one concept. I remember a Christmas when I was in my teens. My father’s father, Granddaddy, was dying of cancer. He was fading on Christmas day. They gave him a shot of something to boost his energy and hold off the idea of dying that day. Instead, he died on my mother’s birthday, December 30 (but she was just a daughter-in-law), and was buried on my uncle’s birthday, January 1 (one of the four sons). But the family never associated his death with Christmas. Otherwise, it might have left a scar. My father-in-law died Thanksgiving weekend, many years ago. It doesn’t ruin the holiday, but we think of him.
But beyond the deaths on Christmas day or any of the holidays, anyone who has passed away this year has left the family to figure out how to celebrate Christmas without them. If it is recent, there may be little celebration, or none at all.
What about family members who do not communicate? Something was said, something was done, or worse yet, something was simply imagined. They refuse to answer the phone or return calls. They delete your e-mails, texts, messages, etc. They unfriend you on social media. Are they punishing you or are they punishing themselves? Everyone is hurt by this type of isolation.
What of those who become homeless during the holidays, out in the cold? What of those who lose their jobs so that the company can save on handing out Christmas bonuses – anything to improve the profit margin at the end of the year? That justifies it, right!?
What if you know someone who can identify with more than one of these examples?
I ask these questions while my favorite meteorologists remind us that in a weather disaster to execute your plan and keep an eye out for the older people in your neighborhood or those who need help getting around. We might do a great job after a tornado or during another disaster, but do we do a good job when people are simply feeling blue during the holidays? We may not oppress the widow or orphan as Zechariah admonishes us not to do, but in ignoring them…
Let’s take the lead from James. Let’s get religious, for just a day, but maybe more often. That old uncle that you haven’t heard from in a long time would love for you to visit, or maybe it’s a niece, or just a friendly neighbor.
That’s it! Let’s be neighbors to someone.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.