If you are reading this today, on Christmas Eve, you probably have more time on your hands than many who are scrambling to get everything ready for a big family get-together. Chances are you are one of many who may, for one reason or another, be separated from family members who you would like to be with at this special time of the year. I share your disappointment as my mother and siblings are 550 miles to the west of me, my daughter’s family is 450 miles north, and my husband’s family is over 800 miles to the north. Fortunately I have wonderful friends who make up my “other family” who live closeby.
Even with the wonderful friends, the absense of those family members I have known the longest still leaves a little empty place in my heart. When my mind begins to dwell on this, one of the songs in our church’s cantata comes to mind. The song is called “Blessings.” I invite you to listen to this YouTube version by clicking here.
One of the blessings of not having the busy-ness of a large gathering of people is extra time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, time to think of the Christ Child lying in the manger in a stable with his young homeless mother and father who couldn’t find a bed for the night. His visitors that night were the smelly shepherds who were the first to hear of his birth from the angels. This baby Jesus was none other than the Son of God who left his home in glory for this lowly reception into our world. Before he was two years old Mary and Joseph had to flee with Jesus to Egypt to spare his life. Jesus had moments of glory on earth, but he was also rejected by the Jewish authorities and put to death on a cruel cross because they were jealous of him.
I reflect on these as reminders because, in his suffering, he has experienced the same kinds of disappointments that we often feel. Jesus, our Emanuel (God with us), understands our hurts and pains, and is right there beside us to give us comfort. With extra time on my hands, now that the church programs and other Christmas parties are behind me, I find it easier to quiet my heart and reflect on these things.
My husband and I can listen to Christmas music, we can watch The Nativity Story, and we can count our blessings – even those that may now be in disguise.
by Janice D. Green, author (re-teller) of The First Christmas