It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
At least that’s what the song says. And everywhere people greet each other with “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Holidays!”
All over town, churches put on their best seasonal productions, and the music rings out joyfully.
Lights twinkle, bells jingle.
While at the local mall, Santa offers his best Ho Ho Ho.
But not everyone is laughing. Because for some people, the Christmas season is just plain hard.
Perhaps there will be one less family member around the table this holiday season, and the grief of that loss is raw right now.
Or maybe the year has been difficult economically, and resources are stretched to pay monthly bills. Financial stress may make it difficult to enjoy the season.
Sometimes it’s the thought of tough family gatherings or absent friends. Or a marriage that is falling apart.
Then all those plaintive holiday songs threaten to bring on tears instead of laughter.
For all kinds of reasons, Christmas can be a very lonely time.
And that’s why the central message of Christmas is so important.
The message came to us over hundreds of years as prophets told of a Messiah who would change the world. Not an easy job.
Isaiah described the One who would come as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” The prophet also informed us that our Messiah— our Savior— would be pierced and crushed and killed. And because of that, healing would be available to all of us. (Isaiah 53)
Then, hundreds of years later, the Christmas message was announced by an angel to shepherds abiding in a field outside Bethlehem:
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2: 10-12
And then a heavenly chorus joined in for the big finish!
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14
So if you struggle to find joy this season, take heart.
The baby in the manger—the Savior of the world— was also a Man of Sorrows. He understands grief, sadness, and longing. Jesus offers His comfort and peace and hope to you this season. He can show you the way to real and lasting joy.