"The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free." Luke 4:18
With Christmas lights abounding, stores filled with shoppers, cookies and treats everywhere, it can appear that all is well. We long so much for a reprieve from the mundane days and the burdens of life and Christmas has become a national celebration and holiday from work.
Yet, for me, many years, all holidays were a reminder that our little family was quite alone and without friends, family and support systems. The bulk of celebration and feeling of joy and happiness fell on me to create. Sometimes I felt that I was to craft an illusion that we were beloved and happy and had friends and community. But in my heart, there was a hole and emptiness that always brought tears in private. Will anyone ever love me? Our family? My children?
From some brokenness and some distance, we rarely had family in our lives to support us, or to celebrate with us or to make us feel that we were cherished ones, or even thought about.
Single moms wonder if they can make up for the losses that a broken family creates. Loss of jobs brings the pressure of figuring out gifts for beloved children and family with no means to pay. Family dissonance often creates more stress and pressure and beings reminders of the broken legacy within homes. There are so many precious ones who feel invisible, alone, unknown and unnoticed.
Yet, one of these sad years, I made myself hear the message of sweet Jesus. I would get up early every morning and light candles, put on soft Christmas music, make my own one girl party. I would sip a cup of tea out of a real china cup, (even thought it was cracked—it was still beautiful to me!) And then I would quietly sit in front of the sparkly lights and whisper, “Jesus—would you remind me that you love me? That I am not alone?”
It was that year that Jesus burned the real message of Christmas into my soul. This God, who looked out upon our lives and felt compassion and saw us, saw me, as “sheep without a shepherd,” came to rescue me and all of us who feel somehow abandoned.
When He announced his coming to the world, it was not the happy, successful, “together” people he had at the front of His mind. He said, “I came to give good news to the poor, to proclaim captives were released, (was I a captive to my own sadness and brokenness?), and to set the oppressed free.
Jesus came humbly to the shepherds with stars and angels and songs—it was to those of us who truly needed love, compassion, understanding, healing that He had His eye upon. It was me he had in mind, the lonely, sad, broken-hearted one who could not mend the rifts in my life—He came because he wanted all people like me to know His deep, humble, abiding love.
When, each year, I pause each morning, again, to see His heart and remember that He sees, then I am filled with the real spirit of Christmas—my Jesus come to bring light into my darkness, His presence into my loneliness, His love into my tender places.
And so, this is my wish for you, that in the midst of the busyness and sparkle, you will deeply know the love of our precious baby savior, who has come especially to bring you, right where you are, life, light and hope.
Sally Clarkson, I Take Joy