I was watching a sappy Christmas movie on TV. I’m not proud of it, but I admit that I’ve watched a few. In this one, the main character reconciled with a long-lost family member and they all went on to celebrate a happy Christmas together. The producers of the movie were sending the message: “Christmas is all about family.”
But what about people who don’t have many family members? What about those whose family live far away or have strained relationships? What about those who are alone for Christmas? Does that mean they can’t fully celebrate or enjoy the holiday?
I think this is one big lie our society is trying to feed us about this time of year. (Another one is “you need more and better stuff,” but I digress!) I believe these lies are a contributing factor to much unhappiness and depression around the holiday season. We feel sorry for ourselves and sad when we believe this lie. Christmas is not about family, it’s about Christ. If we focus on how many people are visiting or having big parties or getting the perfect family portraits, we become greatly disappointed. Many of our families are flawed, estranged, and broken. Most people no longer live in the town they grew up in. Even when we desire to be together, it can be prevented by work schedules, poor health or even inclement weather.
For ten years we had our extended family living nearby. We had wonderful Christmasas with three generations around our table. After they moved away, I didn’t see how I could ever enjoy the holidays again. I especially missed them around Christmas and longed for the family traditions and doting grandparents. My heart hurt for my children. My focus was on the wrong things.
Christmas is about God coming down to earth in human form. What an act of humble love! In His great kindness and mercy, He made a way that you and I could be forgiven and reconciled to Him. He came to bring us life, joy and peace.
This event was the fulfillment of prophecy spoken hundreds of years prior to God’s people:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
The context of this promise is that Jerusalem was being attacked by two fierce armies and the people were terrified! Isaiah spoke these words of comfort and hope to them. He said, “God is on your side! He’s going to deliver you, He will make a way for the impossible to become possible.” Because it’s obvious, we all know that virgins can’t bear children!
And the other great part of this promise is from the New Testament:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”.) Matthew 1:23
Not only did we receive the hope and life that Jesus came to bring, but we actually had God living among us. Jesus became human and lived on planet earth for 33 years. Then, after he rose and ascended to heaven, he sent another part of the Godhead – the Holy Spirit – to dwell within us! We literally have “God with us” at all times. When I meditate on that truth, it prompts me to be thankful and worship!
Therefore, whether we celebrate Christmas surrounded by family and friends, or whether we do it entirely alone, we must remember that we are never truly alone. Emmanuel, God-with-us, is in our hearts! We have the Holy Spirit in us, and He can move us to love others and worship Him during this season.
May He move us to bless those around us, in whatever ways we can. May we be mindful of the true meaning of Christmas which is God’s great gift to us in the form of His Son.