Reading time: two minutes. I’m not a regular watcher of the Hallmark Channel. Not my thing, really, although I think I understand why their movies are so popular. People love a “feel good happy reunion at Christmas” story. Families are split apart, best friends have a falling out, then the “Christmas miracle” happens and happy endings abound. Mistletoe, eggnog all around, fade to commercial. It’s a little schmaltzy, but it’s a story we love. Reconciliation is a story that’s at the heart of the Christmas message of God’s love and grace in Jesus. Jesus heals broken relationships. His loving forgiveness brings broken friendships back to life again, like newborn butterflies, dying and rising through repentance and grace. Is there a relationship of yours that needs the Lord’s healing touch this Christmas? This is a perfect time of year to do an assessment of your emotional wellbeing. Are there people who change your mood just by walking into the room? Is there anyone that you do your best to avoid at social or family gatherings? In a season of love and peace, is there anyone that you find it hard to love? These are indications of a change in mood between you and someone in your circle, indications that your relationship needs a gospel intervention to set the climate back from turbulent and stormy to sunny weather. When I sense a change in emotional atmosphere between me and someone else, I get a little panicky. Patching things up is so hard because it means bridging a gap that has gotten increasingly wider. It’s an effort, and it requires sacrifice. Anytime I myself feel that the mood has changed in my interactions with someone, I know I’m a contributor to the shift in atmosphere. I am my brother’s keeper. What happens between us is my responsibility. Reconciliation begins with self-examination. Advent is a time for that kind of reflection. In quiet time with the Lord, we can ask where we have offended, where we might have caused hurt that has led to strained friendships. Thankfully, the greatest gift under the tree is the forgiveness Jesus won for us on the cross. Our dear Father always forgives us, and that touch of healing spills over to those we’ve hurt, or those who’ve hurt us. It takes both courage and humility to initiate a conversation that begins, “I’ve been thinking about you, and I wish things were better between us. Could we talk?” In the Hallmark movies, usually both parties were waiting for the other to make the first move. That rings true for me. Someone needs to care enough to begin patching things up. Who will make the first move? In the gift of The Christ, God made the first move for us. What a gift! Brand new again. I pray that you will know peace with everyone around you this Christmas. Thanks for reading. Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry? Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.