Fourth in a Series on Why to Join a Small Group
The span of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas brings out the best and the worst in us.
One minute, we’re selflessly loading up groceries for families in need, the next – snapping at store clerks for making us wait too long in line. One minute, we’re wiping away tears at the touching message of a Christmas movie, the next – groaning at the prospect of Christmas day drama with our own families.
It’s an intense time. The hopes and fears of all the years kind of crash in on us, exaggerating joy and pain.
Small groups can help with all that. Over the years I’ve been in a Christian small group, we’ve always followed our Bible study with a time of sharing what we need prayers for.
That bimonthly discipline of meeting and praying gives everyone a chance to process how they’re feeling about approaching events. Over many Novembers and Decembers, I’ve heard a lot of statements like:
“Pray that I’ll be able to get everything done. I feel like I’m racing my advent calendar.”
“I hate shopping. We don’t have the money and I never know what to get.”
“Holiday’s aren’t the same now that Mom’s gone. Pray that we’ll figure out how to keep everyone together.”
“Pray that my _____________ doesn’t start an argument about ___________________ when we get together.”
It helps to talk about our plans and struggles with people who care, to people who want to help us keep God at the center of everything. I know that with the support and prayers of people in my small group, I’ve been able to navigate the holidays with more grace, and bring more joy to what I’m doing. I don’t think all those plays, parties, outreach events with church or family dinners would have gone so well if I hadn’t had a place to angst about them and get them prayed for!
Small groups can be especially important to people who are too far from their families to join them for holidays, or too stressed by their family dynamics to enjoy them. A low key holiday meal with a small group can be so refreshing, either as a substitute for celebrating with family, or something you do beforehand.
In our group, everyone brings one dish to the meal, we skip the presents, and we focus on the good that God has brought into our lives. Often someone will do a reading, or lead a song, and we usually throw in a game. When our kids were little, they’d often do a short Christmas play with an adult narrating. Those moments made for some fabulous memories, and some of those kids are friends for life.
We can’t choose our families; some of us have terrific families and some of us dread getting together with them. But we can all choose a small group of kind people who care for each other, and we can set up ways of relating that keep everyone safe.
A group like that keeps us centered in God’s love and gives us strength for whatever stresses the season might bring.