This holiday season promises to be unlike any other holiday season that we have known. Gathering for Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, attending holiday parties with neighbors and co-workers, sitting in church on Christmas Eve waiting for that wonderful moment when candles are lit and “Silent Night” is sung—all of those wonderful traditional celebrations are probably not likely this holiday season as we work together to reduce the spread of this deadly pandemic and to care for each other.

And yet, that does not mean that this holiday season needs to be nothing but a disappointment. Indeed, maybe this holiday season will be a new kind of holiday season during which we are able to focus more on what really matters to us. It’s not the food that really matters at Thanksgiving, but it’s the family and friends who matter. It’s not the parties that matter, but it’s our neighbors and our colleagues who matter. It’s not the church buildings that matter, but it’s the One whose life continues to shine light into the dark who matters.

Maybe this holiday season, instead of focusing on all that we cannot do this year, maybe we need to try to focus on all that we still can do. We can let our family and friends know how much we love them by phoning or texting or, if we really want to do something old-fashioned, writing them a card or a letter. We can let our neighbors know how much we care for them by wearing a mask and avoiding close physical contact with others. And we can let God know how devoted we are by making a special gift to some organization involved in the lives of those for whom God has a special concern—the least and the little, the lost and the lonely—or by performing some simple act of kindness for somebody.

It will be a new kind of holiday season this year, but maybe that’s really not so bad. Maybe, actually, it’s a gift, in a way, to be able to rid these days of all of the distractions so that we can reset what the holidays really mean to us, refocusing on all that is genuinely important.

–Pastor Don Steele

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