BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” John 1:9 NIV
Here we are, Christmas 2019. Where has the year, where has the decade gone?
Christmas is a time for family, gifts, celebration, travel, songs, lights and much more.
For many that much more can mean grief, loneliness, confusion and other challenging situations and emotions. The Christmas Song, “I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You” speaks of lovers who are separated. Debbie’s parents were married on a Sunday morning before Sunday School in May 1943. A few days later Elmer headed off to serve 39 months in Europe during World War II. I am sure those three Christmases for both of them were “blue.” However, separation in relationships can be more than geographical, and “blueness” has many sources.
This has been driven home in the last few days from a couple of sources. One was a conversation with an individual I met a few months ago when I performed the funeral service for her mother-in-law. Just a couple of months after this death, her sister-in-law died ending a struggle with cancer that had endured for several years.
As we talked she made reference to her church in Chico, California having a “Blue Christmas Service.” This service was for those who had suffered loss or tragedy or just facing a difficult time for a multitude of reasons. At the end of the service those attending light a candle to symbolize light coming into the darkness of their circumstance.
A few days later I was viewing the Christmas devotional from three faculty members of Colorado Christian University. As they all shared an aspect of the theme, “God Came Near” one of them shared how a generational Christmas tradition was difficult to face due to the death of her mother. It was neat to hear how her adult son stepped up to offer to bake the banana bread that served as the special treat the family enjoyed in the middle of opening presents.
She called attention to Mark’s gospel. Mark doesn’t begin with Jesus’ birth, shepherds or wise men, but with John the Baptist in the wilderness. A wilderness speaks of wandering, loneliness, apprehension, longing, uncertainty, and darkness.
Considering all of this we can find encouragement in knowing that Jesus was born at night, fittingly symbolic of John’s words, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” The shepherds night time vigil was interrupted by the appearance of angels from heaven. They announced good tidings of great joy, a Savior has been born! One whose birth broke the darkness and through His death would bring light, life and hope and the promise of an eternal home.
Zechariah as the Lord’s prophet declared of the ministry of John the Baptist, that he would “…give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God,” by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (John 1:77-79 NIV)
For those in the wilderness, lost and alone, Jesus can bring light and guide them into the path of peace. Jesus did not come to or for the ideal, He came to the real. A real man and woman. Real shepherds despised and disengaged. Real wise men wandering in hope. He still comes to and for those who are having a “blue Christmas.”
Without Christ, any Christmas regardless of circumstances is “blue.” With Christ the “blueness” a Christmas can be dispelled by the hope, light, and life that Jesus brings. Come and adore Him! And have a Merry Christmas!