It’s that time of year again. The familiar sights and sounds of the Christmas season surround us – twinkling lights, festive carols, the hustle and bustle of shoppers rushing to finish their gift lists. For many, this is a joyous time filled with celebrations, gatherings with loved ones, and fond memories. But for some, the holiday season brings a different set of emotions – feelings of loneliness, isolation, grief, or loss.

If you find yourself facing the holidays without your usual companions – separated from family or friends, missing a loved one who has passed, or simply feeling alone in the crowd – know that you are not forgotten. The light and hope of the Christmas message are for you too.

In the beloved story of the first Christmas, we find a cast of solitary characters – the migrant Mary and Joseph, far from home and in need of shelter; the ragtag group of shepherds, isolated and overlooked; even the Magi, strangers in a foreign land following an unfamiliar star. Though they came from different walks of life, each was alone and searching for connection, community, and meaning. Yet every one of them was met with the light of God’s love through the miracle of the Christ child.

The Bible reminds us in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” The power of the Christmas narrative is its message of hope to the marginalized and forgotten. The light of the world arrived in the midst of a dark night, bringing salvation and a reason to rejoice. No matter how far you feel from the center of the celebration, the light reaches you right where you are.

If you are grieving, missing someone special this year, reflect on the eternal promise of Christmas – that light breaks through the darkest night and love transcends even loss and death. If you feel alone in your thoughts and feelings, know that there are others, like the shepherds keeping watch, who also seek community and purpose. If your chair at the table is empty, you are welcomed and wanted at another table, like the wanderers welcomed in the Bethlehem stable. God’s grace extends to the lonely.

Though the trials of life continue, there are always glimmers of hope, moments of compassion, opportunities to love and care for one another. During this season especially, consider those around you who may also be lonely or forgotten. Offer friendship to the retiree down the street who lost their spouse this year. Invite the new coworker who can’t travel home to join your family’s celebration. Check in on the neighbor spending their first holiday after a divorce. Share the light you have received. Tell someone about the hope you have in Christ.

Christ came to dwell with us – Emmanuel – promising never to leave us alone. At Christmas we celebrate that though we walk through the darkest valleys, we need not fear, for God’s love illuminates the way. The light still shines in the darkness. May you feel God’s presence with you today.

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)

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