A time to reconcile

Published 4:43 pm Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A line from one of our favorite Christmas carols, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” whose lyrics were written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, a leader of the Methodist movement of his day, had us thinking recently about intangible Christmas gifts. The arrival of a “new-born king,” the carol tells us, means that “God and sinners (will be) reconciled.”

Whatever one’s religious beliefs, reconciliation could be the most wonderful Christmas gift ever. Christians believe reconciliation with God results in eternal life in heaven for the believer, which is a gift that would be hard to beat. But even here on Earth, between mortal human beings, the acts of apology and forgiveness can have wondrous results.

It’s easy to find examples of how a lack of contrition for wrongs caused or forgiveness for transgressions experienced ruins people. Stories abound of brothers and sisters who haven’t communicated for so long that they forgot why they originally stopped talking, of lifelong friends who sever their ties over slights so slight they would embarrass a kindergartener. Watch any half-hour court show on television for very long and you’ll even see parents and children suing each other over issues you’d think they’d be too embarrassed to air in front of a courtroom audience, much less a camera.

Even the winners in such disputes are hurt. Bitterness towards others destroys our ability to experience joy. You may be right that your mother should never have said what she did about your housekeeping, but refusing ever to invite her back will never make you feel better. Your resentment will only build on itself as you nurse it through the years, and you’ll find it impossible to have true love and joy in other areas of your life.

This Christmas, give yourself and somebody you once loved one of the greatest gifts you each could ever receive — peace. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong, pick up the phone and make the call. You might be amazed at how joyful your Christmas can be, once you let go of your bitterness.