I was visiting with one of our shut-ins the other day and we started discussing the fact that there are SO many Christmas movies on TV this time of year. And I shared with her that I'm not normally a TV-watcher, but there's something I just can't seem to resist about those Hallmark-type Christmas movies. Any other time of year, I'd have no desire at all to glue myself to the TV to watch a steady stream of tales of little orphaned children being adopted by wonderful new parents on Christmas Eve, or estranged families reuniting around a Christmas tree with cups of hot cocoa and lots of hugs and tears, or abandoned dogs finding warm, loving homes (along with many bones and treats under the tree), or young mothers suffering from amnesia suddenly being cured when they see their children singing carols in the town square. And, of course, most of these stories end with loving families worshiping and singing carols together on Christmas Eve. There are at least a thousand variations on the same theme - and they all leave my teary-eyed. What a sap!
But when it comes right down to it, the real reason we are so drawn to these "sappy" movies is because this is the one time of year when it's okay for us to celebrate things like joy, love, peace, and especially reconciliation. We love nothing more to sit in front of a Christmas tree and hear or watch tales of relationships being put right. And that's because one of the greatest gifts God gives us at Christmas time and all throughout the year is the gift of relationships - relationships with each other and with Him. And this is a time for us to celebrate and give thanks for those relationships. We want to be together; we want to give gifts to those we're close to; we want to worship with others; we want to share meals and conversation and laughter. Of course, not that all of our relationships are as heart-warming as the ones depicted in those Hallmark movies - but hope springs eternal, and Christmas is a time for hope!
I pray that all of us will gather for worship over these next few weeks of Advent with our family in Christ. Perhaps we'll sit together with a spouse, with children, with parents, aunts, uncles, friends - perhaps not - but none of us will be alone. Christ will be with us and that's more than enough to warm out hearts.