Q Are we denying Christ by going on a family reunion cruise with my siblings over Christmas? My wife and I feel uncomfortable celebrating the birth of Christ in this way, but since we are the only Christians in the group, our wishes have been ignored.

A It depends. If you and your wife go on this trip feeling guilty and wishing you were home, than yes, not going might have been the better choice. However, remember that it is The Accuser who specializes in creating guilt where none is called for.

Instead, I encourage you to think of this reunion trip as an opportunity given by God for you to get to know your siblings better, understand your family history better, experience personal renewal and growth, and have fun.

To get there, be intentional about how you want your love for God and neighbor to impact your experience of the trip. For instance, you and your wife could agree to begin each day together with devotions, including reading Scripture and prayer. With your siblings, resolve to spend some time exploring your common history. Bring up significant family events and ask about how your siblings’ experiences and memories might be different from yours. If there are spouses whose culture, religious upbringing, or family experiences are different from yours, be curious about those differences.

Above all, realize that you are called to pray for each of your siblings and their spouses. Follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit and be ready to “give an account of the hope that is within you.”  Think of Christmas not as a birthday party but as a season of celebration, full of joy and grace—a new beginning of God with us.

About the Author

Judy Cook is a family therapist and a member of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster, Ontario.