When I fantasize about a joyful Christmas morning I picture a large, freshly cut fir tree blanketed in white lights and homemade ornaments with neatly wrapped gift boxes filled with video games, designers clothes and shoes, iPads, and jewelry spilling from beneath the tree’s limbs. I imagine a large, happy family snuggled up by a roaring fire watching old movies and sipping hot chocolate without a worry on our minds. Our stomachs are full. The bills have been paid. We have everything we could possibly need. All is merry and bright.
It wasn’t until I became a single mom that I realized how lonely, alienating, and impossible a secularized and commercialized Christmas can feel. That kind of Christmas is for the prosperous and the wealthy, and it drives yet another divide between the haves and the have-nots of the world. What a great tragedy when considering that the reality of Christmas is precisely the opposite. Christmas is for the suffering, for those shrouded in darkness and despair.
It is the story of divine mercy, of God hearing the cries of terror and abuse from His people living under a tyrannical regime. It is the story of a loving God stepping into our darkness and taking the form of poverty and vulnerability and then immediately experiencing persecution in order to give us hope and salvation. Christmas is for the poor, the lonely, the childless, the grieving, the afraid. It is for the persecuted and for the refugee. Christmas is for all who are shrouded in darkness and despair.
Hear the Good News, “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). Immanuel, God is with us.