“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
- Welcome to the joyous season of Christmas! As we prepare to draw near to our Lord, bring your favorite beverage, Bible, journal, and a pen, and an open heart as you sit at the feet of your Heavenly Father.
- Read Isaiah 9:2-7. Write Isaiah 9:6 in your journal.
Hope in Lonely Times
For a moment, try to imagine the night our Savior was born—how Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus must have felt that first Christmas morn. Imagine the babe lying in a manger, a cold, damp cave with straw in a feeding trough for a bed, and the nearby town of Bethlehem packed so full there was no room even at the inn. In that half-empty room, except for some lowly cattle, they were all alone and separated from friends and family.
I know what it’s like to be lonely. As a military family for 21 years, we spent many Christmases separated from our extended family and the traditions we enjoyed growing up. Not sharing in these traditions often brought sadness. We missed opening gifts together and hearing the repeated pleas to “save the bows!” We felt sad that we were unable to see the smiles on each other’s faces as the kids poked and prodded each other during the family photoshoot, and we hated missing out on the scrumptious meal with way too many delicious leftovers!
Even though we missed family, we soon learned to create our own family traditions that would usher joy and hope into our holiday.
Here are some ways we centered our holiday around the hope of Jesus:
Birthday party for Jesus: When our children were young, we had birthday parties for Jesus. At one Christmas party in Hawaii, we made snow angels using a 50-lb bag of rice spread out on a large tarp. Kids would lay down on the rice and move their arms and legs out and back as if in freshly fallen snow. We also had several craft stations to make take-home party favors. We made a chocolate cake to represent our sin and added white frosting and red lettering with “Happy Birthday Jesus” written to represent Jesus dying to take away our sins and making us pure. Afterward, we put candles on the cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus! So many smiles and so much laughter!
Gift-giving like the Magi: My husband and I tried to keep gift-giving to a minimum to focus more on the free gift of Christ, which also helped us stay within our budget. Matthew 2:11 ESV says, “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense, and myrrh.” We used the gifts the Magi brought to the Christ-child as a guide for our own gift-giving: Gold was represented by cash or a really nice gift, frankincense became something for better health, and myrrh was something like a devotional book to help us grow in our relationship with God.
Though these times could have been lonely and hopeless, we kept them Christ-centered and experienced the richest of times. God is so very good! As I reflect on some of our quieter Christmases, I also rejoice in the hope of the Savior of the world, who came as payment for our sins, was rejected by the very people He came to save, and died and rose again that we, too, might live!
In Christ, we may feel lonely, but we are never short of the hope His salvation brings.
Blessings and Love,
Questions to Ponder
- Do you believe Jesus came to die for your sins? Have you ever invited Jesus into your heart? If not, pray it with me now:
“Dear God, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. Any good in me is like filthy rags according to your standard of goodness. I fully believe in Jesus, your son, who died for me, being the final and perfect sacrifice so I could become your child of righteousness. I ask you to come and dwell in my heart as I confess and declare with my mouth that you are Lord of my life. Thank you for changing me, for
delivering me from evil. I now want to live a life that is pleasing to you. Amen.”
Invite two or three families over for a “Happy Birthday Jesus Party!” Make it simple—some balloons from the dollar store with a simple cake as described above.
Take some time to reflect on what gifts are important to your family. Pick three types of gifts that work for your family and make that your tradition. This saves time, money, and being frazzled and exhausted during this amazing Christ-centered season.
Lastly, make time to talk about the hope that the birth of our Savior brought into this world. Share why this is still relevant today. Read the account in the Gospel of Luke on Christmas Eve or sometime in December.