This may be a very different Christmas this year for many who are choosing to stay away from family gatherings because of the threat of illness. I know that may cause some feelings of loneliness or depression or even despair.
But I want you to be encouraged.
Over 2,000 years ago, in a little city named Nazareth in Galilee, things looked bleak as well. The Jewish residents were under brutal Roman rule at the time. A young virgin turned up pregnant, telling her fiancé she had been impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Likely thinking his betrothed had been unfaithful and was trying to cover with an elaborate lie, the kind Joseph eschewed the law, which specified that his intended must be stoned to death, and opted to try to put her away quietly instead.
Before he could do that, however, he was visited by an angel of the Lord telling him not to be afraid to take Mary for his wife, confirming that what had been conceived in her was indeed from the Holy Spirit.
You know the rest of the story. The long ride to Bethlehem by donkey – no luxury for an expectant mother. No room in the inn. Jesus being born in a stable. Then the killing of all the babies by the mad king Herod.
In fact, a careful reading of scripture reveals quite a lot of darkness in this world.
And yet it is against such a backdrop that the angels proclaimed glory to God and peace on earth and goodwill toward mankind.
Our Savior Himself would later say, “My peace I leave you. My peace I give to you. Take heart. In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the World.”
He overcame the darkness in the beginning when the Father said “Let there be light. “He overcame it again on that night He was born in a manger.
His coming was so bright it created a wonderful star in the sky for the wise men to follow. He’s still overcoming that darkness.
So, this Christmas, while you may temporarily be away from those you love most, take heart. Our Savior is still offering you His peace, and He is promising that light will shine again in your lives.
Merry Christmas, and God’s richest blessings upon you and your loved ones this year.