It’s Christmas week, dear friends.

The week when we’ve hopefully finished up shopping and wrapping gifts and can slow down to reflect on the year, grateful for all God has done.

When we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

When we gather together to celebrate… or at least, when we should be gathering together to celebrate.

This year, y’all.

I’ve been thinking a lot about December and how it’s supposed to be a month of joy and peace, but for so many it’s filled with sadness and fear.

For my family, the calendar is scattered with dates we’d rather forget. Events that have left marks on us we can’t completely scrub off. I’d love to tell you those dates don’t have the same effect they once did, but that’s not completely true. What is true, however, is that we’re able to see the goodness of God in spite of the hard memories.

Choosing to see the good when the bad is so determined to win is never easy.

Right now the tv is flooded with a host of Christmas movie options, and I’m a sucker for a feel good Christmas movie.

Earlier this week I watched The Grinch (the more recent animated remake) and cried (again) at the end. I love that this version explains why the Grinch is the way he is, or was the way he was… how his loneliness led to bitterness and anger. He wasn’t born grinchy, friends. His life experiences got him there. In his hurt and anger he tried to erase Christmas by removing all the decorations and gifts from all the families in Whoville. Obviously, it didn’t work. What all the Whos in Whoville knew was that Christmas wasn’t about stuff. For them, it was about joy and kindness and generosity. Sweet little Cindy Lou was able to see past the Grinch’s mistakes and the hurt he caused, and responded with love in the form of a family dinner invitation. And that love made all the difference.

You see, it’s really not that hard.

But I’d like to take it a step further. What all the Whos in Whoville didn’t know that we, as Christians, do know is that Christmas is about even more than joy and kindness and generosity. It’s about Jesus, and when Jesus is the source of our joy, kindness and generosity pour out pretty effortlessly.

This year may feel a little less joyful. At this point in the coronavirus mess, all of us know someone affected by it. Most of us have had it in varying degrees of severity. People have been forced to close businesses, lost jobs, had to say goodbye to family members and friends, dealt with new levels of loneliness, and have a real fear for their health, their lives.

Things feel pretty bleak, but I assure you, this won’t last forever.

I remember this time last year thinking about how cool “2020” sounded, and was so sure it was going to be a great year. Instead, it has been unforgettable, but not in the ways we thought.

Can I ask you to do something this week?

Finish this year well.

Take some time to write down the good things that have happened this year. I promise there’s more than you think.

Think about the people in your life and the gifts God has given you, and put those two things together to make a difference.

It will look different for each of us, but dream a bit with me – can you see what a difference it could make if we all worked together to love others well?

We have the cure for a world in despair, friends. Don’t waste it.

I pray you wake up on Christmas morning with a renewed hope and and excitement for the year to come. The Lord has carried us this far, and He will usher us into the new year with a fresh perspective. Merry Christmas to you all!