James 1:27 – Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (NIV)
I love Christmas. I haven't loved every Christmas in my life, however. The first Christmas four months after my daughter died in a car accident was a bad one. The Christmas before that, after my husband left, that same daughter wept as she opened presents sent from her father. That was not a good Christmas either. Christmas cards, movies, television programs, etc., all promote the perfect family sitting down to the perfect meal after opening lovely presents. But what about the other people – the ones who find the sting of loss even more excruciating at Christmas next to the template of that perfect family Christmas? What Christmas cards are there to send those people?
I think I could make one. It would show someone with their face turned to heaven in the shadow of the cross with the nativity scene to one side. It would say, "Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow because of the Child given so long ago." The inside might say, "He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted…" (Isaiah 61:1 AMP). I have been one who has been bound up with healing from the Son of God Who read those words in the synagogue in Nazareth that day. By God's mercy, I have enjoyed many good Christmas times since those sad ones.
The family side of Christmas is important, as our emotions are more tender at this time of year. However, deep in the heart of every Christian is the recognition that Christmas is not truly about a family Christmas. Rather, it is about appreciating the tremendous gift of salvation given as God in Christ stepped into time at Bethlehem to accomplish our salvation. And what does one do with this appreciation? How do we please God during this season? Reaching out to others, especially when we are sorrowful, can end up being a comfort for both the giver and also the receiver – a sort of two for one. They feel better, and so do we. What visit, what meal, what kindness can we give someone else to alleviate their painful Christmas? That's the key: thanksgiving to God and an outstretched hand to others in need. Now there's a good Christmas card sentiment.
Happy or sad, may the Lord Jesus bless your Christmas with joyful thanksgiving of what Almighty God did to make a way for us to be forgiven, because of that first Christmas.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to comfort others this Christmas the way You have comforted us. In doing so, may we please You and also find our own peace through it. Thanks be to You, O God. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Good Christian Men Rejoice" (Lyrics)