FAITH

FROM THE 'DEEP' END: Reconciling Christmas

Eric Partin
Eric Partin

I usually can’t get through a Christmas without telling the chicken story. It’s become somewhat of a legend in my family. Years ago my wife would send out these care packages to family members for Christmas. They would have pictures of the kids and some holiday goodies like home made fudge. She would make the fudge, wrap it in foil and stick in the freezer until she was ready to mail them out, so our freezer will filled with these foil wrapped rectangles.

One year I got a call from my mother on Christmas morning who had just opened the package from us. She was confused as to why we would send her a package of raw chicken. My wife ran to the freezer and found our freezer still full of fudge. She had mixed up the fudge with some raw chicken that was already in the freezer and had sent it to my mom, dad and all my sisters. Luckily, my family loves practical jokes, so over the years it become a running joke at family reunions. We actually started hiding frozen poultry in each others cars and suit cases when we got together and would see how long it would take for them to discover it.

That story is a great picture into the more fun side of my family’s dynamics, but it hasn’t always been like that. There’s been times where family members would stop talking to each other, where someone got offended at something someone said and it caused a riff in the family. Sometimes it would get resolved, some times it would take a couple of years or sometimes it wouldn’t get resolved at all.

Often times the Christmas season can amplify these unresolved issues with family or friends. One reason for that is that we often have this idillic idea about how Christmas should be and then we have to deal with the reality. Sometimes we imagine everyone getting along and being kind to each other. There’s no arguing, no drama and no one is trying manipulate anyone. Often the reality is quite different. Maybe there’s unresolved issues that explosively come to the surface every year. Maybe they’re dealt with through avoidance and maybe there’s people who aren’t even welcome at Christmas anymore.

It’s kind of ironic given what we celebrate during Christmas. In one popular carol it declares, “God and sinners reconciled.” We celebrate Christmas because God sent His son to the world so that we could be reconciled to God. No matter what we’ve done, God wants to forget it move on into a relationship with us. That’s great news for us, but what about when it comes to sinner and sinner and reconciled? How do we deal with the wrongs that have been done to us?

The truth is we aren’t supposed to live with this dichotomy of being right with God without getting right with one another. In Colossians 1 the Apostle Paul gave us a little perspective on what it took to reconcile us to God.

" Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation." Colossians 1: 21-22

So Christ died so that we could be reconciled to God. For some of us, all it takes to be reconciled to each other is an email, a phone call or an awkward conversation. It’s a small price compared to the what He did to make us right with God.

Reconciliation is not comfortable. It is definitely not intuitive. But in most cases it is necessary, for our sake, so that we don’t drag bitterness around year after year. It’s also necessary for the other person’s sake. Somewhere in your life there is a burned bridge and someone on the other side of that bridge wondering the same thing as you: “Who’s going to fix this?” It’s not going to happen until someone initiates the mending.

So here is the question we have to answer this Christmas: If God and sinner can be reconciled, who are we to withhold the offer of reconciliation? It doesn’t matter if they don’t care or if they won’t appreciate it. It doesn’t even matter whether they receive it or not. After what God did to reconcile us, who are we to withhold the offer of reconciliation?

Pastor Eric Partin is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Destin and can be reached at ericpartin@shorelinechurch.net.