The Scripture admonishes us to “rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those that weep” (Romans 12:15). This Christmas season, most everybody will be in one of those two camps. There appears to be no middle ground when it comes to our emotions at Christmas.

Many people will have reason to rejoice—a young man experiencing his first Christmas at a church as pastor, brand new parents holding their baby, or grandparents meeting that first grandchild. It might be a soldier returning home from the war zone, having missed last Christmas. Perhaps it is an elderly couple with all the kids and grandkids gathered around their table for the first time in a long time. The reasons to celebrate seem to be accentuated during this wonderful time of the year. The admonishing of Scripture is to rejoice with those that are rejoicing. Don’t hold back…join in the celebration!

Conversely, the Scripture also instructs us to weep with those that are weeping. There are families that gather around their table at Christmas and there is an empty chair. There may be a pastors that is going through a very difficult time with their church, or it may be a lay member watching his church having a lot of trouble instead of peace and growth, and he is disturbed by it. Perhaps your own children are not home because it is the year they are at the in-laws (we prayed our girls would marry orphans…that didn’t work). There are certainly a thousand other reasons why people would have their broken hearts freshly exposed during this season of the year. God also gives us a clear word in our relationship to them: weep, be moved by the hurts of others. Be called during this time of the year to be ready to put your arm around those that are defeated, disillusioned, depressed, and simply be there with them and for them. No explanation is needed. There is power in presence. Look for those hurting hearts.

This Christmas represents a new norm for me and Jeanne. We are looking forward to spending our Christmas here in middle Tennessee for the first time. Our children and three grandchildren (two yet to be born, but on the way!) will gather around our table. That will be a joy! From our family and the entire missionary staff at the Tennessee Baptist Convention, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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