The longing for “with-ness” this festive season.

I sit in the stillness with the glow of Christmas lights and candles before me. The carols and fireworks still ring in my ears and in my heart. There is something about gathering with thousands of others to sing carols that marks Christmas and signals that the festive season is truly here. Gathering with family to share these moments has been a cherished annual tradition.

What is it about events like this that draw such a crowd? What are we looking for? What is our heart cry at Christmas? It’s more than the good music, fun activities and fireworks. We want to be with others. We want to know that we are not alone. We want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves.

That craving for belonging and with-ness is not an accident but a design. We have been designed to need each other and search for more. The message of Christmas is all about God wanting to be with us, in close relationship.

For some this year, that longing to be with someone is a gaping hole as they miss loved ones lost. For some, that longing for connection can still be there even in the midst of a room of people as they long to be really seen and known to the depths of who they are. For some, distance and circumstances thwart the desire to connect with those they love. The festive season can be so full of joy, peace and celebration but is also fraught with pain, disappointment and angst.

May those who are missing loved ones find joy in the memories and in making new ones this year.

May those who are lonely feel known and loved.

May those who are struggling to survive find peace beyond what their circumstances dictate.

May those who are caught up in to-do lists remember that their presence is what is most important.

May those who don’t yet know Immanuel, God with us, be drawn to explore and seek.

May those who want to ignore Christmas find a reason to celebrate in a way that suits them.

I need the reminder to be with those I love. It is too easy to lose myself in a book, a clear up task or my phone. I am seeking to be present during this time, even if it is only for a short time.

Wherever you are at this festive season, may you know that you are loved and may you find joy and peace.

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