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My wife and I met while we were students at Michigan State University. The school was built on a beautiful 10,000-acre campus. There were trees, shrubs, and flowers surrounding the buildings. Several natural areas populated the campus. There was even a river that flowed through the campus.
The natural background, wherever we went, was vibrant and energizing. It helped with the long walks and bike rides we sometimes had to make between buildings to get to our classes.
But it wasn’t always vibrant and energizing. Each year we had to endure the winter season.
During the winter season, the skies went from blue to gray and the temperature got very cold. The colors of the grass and plants disappeared. Other colors that didn’t disappear were covered by snow and ice. My wife has a photo of the natural area around the river taken during the winter with color film (yes, it was before digital cameras) that looks like she used black and white film.
Some people are significantly affected by the winter season. The colder, darker days bring on the winter blues (or worse). Just the loss of natural light can cause significant problems with a person’s emotions.
There are similarities between this and the holiday season.
Celebrating the Holiday Season
The holidays are all about celebrating. Family and friends get together. Food and decorations can be extravagant. Traditions are followed and enjoyed year after year.
Although many people spend weeks or months preparing as they look forward to the holiday season, others dread it.
There are people around us who have a difficult time celebrating during the holidays. Many of them have experienced a significant loss of someone or something (such as family members, friends, finances, or health). Holidays can amplify that feeling of loss.
Don’t minimize or ignore the feelings of loss being experienced. Remember, Jesus shed tears in response to the deep sorrow of those around Him following the death of their friend Lazarus.
Find ways for God’s love to shine through you as you express your love to those hurting around you during the holiday season.
4 Ways to Help Small Group Members Through the Holidays
You may have people in your small group ministry who have a difficult time during holiday seasons. It doesn’t mean you stop celebrating. However, it does mean you could consider making one or more small changes to help.
Here are four ways to consider helping those struggling who God put in your care:
Provide an Opportunity to Talk About the Loss
Find a time when you can acknowledge the holidays are difficult for some people, maybe even for one or more members of the group. Then allow members to talk about anything that is replacing their desire to celebrate with a feeling of loss or ambivalence. Be empathetic. Follow the discussion with prayer.
Find a way that your group can serve others in need during the holiday season. Identify an organization or family that you can help and take steps to do it as a group. Volunteering in this way can help take the focus off ourselves and put it on those we are helping.
Celebrate as a Group
Don’t limit your group meetings to the same format and Bible study. Break the routine with a holiday celebration. Of course, that usually involves food. It can also include things like games, singing, and encouraging discussions.
Extend an Invitation to Your Celebration
Spending a holiday alone can be difficult. Especially as family and friends are posting photos of their celebrations all over social media.
Is there anyone in your group who will be spending the holiday alone? Consider inviting them to be a part of your personal/family celebration. If you aren’t able, would one of your members be willing to extend the invitation?
Allow God to shine through you and your group during the holidays. Brighten the holiday blues for those who experience difficulties during the holiday season.
Related Article: 5 December Ideas for Your Group