2020 has been quite a year. A year unlike any in recent memory.
COVID-19 has touched all of us in one way or another.
Some have lost family members. Others have lost jobs or businesses. All have lost the sense of peace and security that comes from the normalcy of everyday life.
In some ways we have drawn closer together as a community, and in others we have become even more divided.
As we take time this Christmas season to reflect on the year that was, it is my hope that in the midst of the sorrow, the anger and the fear, families will take the time to look for the positives and reflect on the things that matter most.
For me, those things are my faith and my family.
As a person of faith, I am thankful for the angel’s message, delivered to shepherds long ago:
“Peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
This message of peace and goodwill was delivered into a world deeply divided by politics and religion. A world filled with violence, inequality, oppression, and fear.
Such a message would have seemed just as implausible in the First Century as it does to us today.
Equally implausible was the root of that promise: A helpless baby born to a virgin.
The Christmas story is a good reminder that faith untested is not really faith at all.
I am also thankful for my family.
I am blessed by my wife, Irene, my children and grandchildren, and COVID-19 has only deepened the bond of love and appreciation I have for them.
Many people have expressed that this year has brought them closer together as a family.
I do recognize, however, that this is not the reality for everyone.
For many people, family can be a source of chaos, and COVID-19 has only made things worse.
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions we have seen a heartbreaking rise in domestic abuse, child abuse, addiction and suicide.
Other families have been left divided, either by geography or the politics of the virus.
It will take a long time for us to heal as a society.
Moreover, Christmas is a time when the loss of a loved one is most deeply felt, and many have lost loved ones.
My prayer is that this holiday season can be one of healing for those families.
It is my hope that during this Christmas season, Canadians will reach out to each other (as they are able) and help begin that healing process. Sometimes, just a phone call to let someone know you care can have results beyond what we can imagine.
COVID-19 will not be here forever. This too shall pass. What we learn from this experience, whether we allow it to destroy us or make us stronger—as individuals, as families, as communities and as a nation—begins with each of us.
May this Christmas season be one where we seek to be bringers of goodwill, hope, unity and peace.