My wife and I have made many lasting friendships over the 36 years I have pastored churches. Though there are many friends we have not seen in literally decades, we still keep in touch with an annual Christmas card or letter. Each card is filled with wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year, as well as joy and peace at Christmas.
But, what about some of those Christmas letters? You know the ones I speak of! It is that letter from Aunt Sally or Cousin Jane that drags on and on forever, in which they brag about all the accomplishments of their children and grandchildren. Besides their being the smartest and most talented children in the world, they also are highly successful and seem to have reached the pinnacle from which they shall never fall.
If the truth be known, such letters usually bore us, and we cast them aside as more of an irritation rather than receive them as the blessing they can be. What do I mean? Well, the very fact that someone sent us the letter in the first place is an indication that they are thinking of us. Obviously, though it may be in a small way, we really do matter to them.
Imagine never receiving a Christmas card or letter! Day after day, during the days leading up to Christmas, you open the mailbox only to find it empty. Another Christmas has come with no "well-wishes" from a family member or friend; no one saying "I am thinking of you."
Though, for most of us, the Christmas Season is a time of great joy; there are so many others for which it has become a dreadful, lonely and miserable time of year. Numerous studies have been done to determine if depression and suicide rise during the holidays. The results of such studies vary; however, depression is a serious matter for many people who are alone.
Some years ago, the slogan of AT&T was "Reach out and touch someone." We would each do well to do just that. As we continue through the annual holiday festivities, the endless parties and family gatherings, think of someone who needs to share in your joy. Perhaps it is the man across the street who recently lost his wife, or the woman next door who has children that never come to see her. Invite them to join your family for dinner, or take them a plate of your homemade cookies. Something so simple can say, "You matter to me."
After all, isn't that the message of Christmas? When God sent His Son into the world, born in a lowly cattle stall of the Virgin Mary, was He not saying to each of us, "I love you; you matter to Me?"
Jerry L. Dunn is pastor of Oak Street Baptist Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.