A traditional Christmas – the phrase brings with it many familiar images: trees with bright lights and garland, carols in the air, gifts wrapped in brightly colored paper, fun with friends and family, and so much more. But that is not the traditional Christmas I’m referring to.
The one I’m thinking about occurred more than 2000 years ago. It was the original Christmas, the day of the Christ-Child’s birth. We find the story in Luke 2:1-20. It paints a very different picture from the one we recall when we hear the words “traditional Christmas.”
It was a difficult time for Joseph and Mary. When most expectant mothers would be sheltered in preparation for childbirth, they were forced to leave home and make an arduous journey to a small village outside of Jerusalem. On the night of Jesus’ birth, they found no sanctuary, had few provisions, and no family or friends present. It was not a time of bright lights, brightly colored packages, happy songs and loving friends. It was a scary, lonely, very difficult time.
You may be facing a similar Christmas. Maybe there is no money for celebration. There are no family or friends to share the season. Times are difficult, the world seems hostile, people indifferent, and loneliness overwhelms the heart. You may feel totally disconnected from Christmas, but you are not. You are at the heart of Christmas. This was the Christmas of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. God sees you and He cares.
On that first Christmas night, there were no bright lights or candles in the stable, but God placed a bright star in the sky. There was no one to sing carols, so He sent His angels to proclaim the Glad Tidings. There were no friends to celebrate, so He found some lonely shepherds and asked them to go. There were no gifts to share, so He sent Wise Men from the East.
He can do the same for you. It may not look like a “traditional” Christmas, but it can be a wonder-filled time. The Christ-Child can place His Light in the midst of your darkened situation. He can cause His Spirit to sing songs deep within your heart. He can send His angels to keep you company. And, He can give you the gifts of joy, love and peace.
I pray we will all experience a traditional Christmas this season, one filled with wonder in the presence of a Savior born as a Babe in a Manger. Merry Christmas!