Christmas. It’s SO not about the Children

If the radio, TV, movie theaters, and Facebook are on target, then Christmas is full of loving, laughing families, fireplaces, the best gifts ever, and last-minute miracles. And, there’s some of that, of course. But around the world and even in the next room, Christmas looks quite different for millions of us. This Christmas Eve post is for you because despite the version you see on screen, Jesus brought Christmas and He didn’t bring it for children, He brought it for us all.

Some of us man the stations over Christmas Eve and Christmas. Armed forces overseas and at home. First responders. Hospital staff. Caregivers. Those on vigil over loved ones in hospital or hospice. Social workers. Emergency foster parents. Fill-in radio announcers. Restaurant staff. Homeless shelter workers. And countless others. We often see things at Christmas others hope never to see in their lifetimes. We work so others can rejoice. We fill the airways with voices so people alone won’t feel so alone. We provide respite for weary families. We cover for tired staff who need a break. We stand guard so revelers can survive their gathering.

Jesus is with you. He is Emmanuel. God with us. God with us in those hours just before daybreak when coffee isn’t doing it. Those minutes on scene when it’s clear not everyone survived. Those moments when death is imminent and a family watching a loved one slip away need a hand to hold or to encourage once more that they’ve done all they could. Those hours dealing with people who curse Christmas and come in out of the cold having medicated themselves against their inner demons wondering what family they’ve let down again this year. Hours in a hot kitchen serving meals to other families so yours can eat in January. Jesus sees you and came for you. He loves how you celebrate Him through service. He loves how you represent Him with your sacrifice. God sent the angelic announcement to the shepherds so everyone would know that God will find you even if you’re out doing your job.

Some of us cringe inside when we hear it proclaimed over and over that Christmas is all about the children. It reminds us of our empty wombs, empty cribs, empty nests. We buy gifts for others’ children. We visit cemeteries with poinsettias in hand. We Skype and Facetime and phone chat with adult children far away or little ones visiting their other parent this year and bravely assure them we are fine because that’s what parents do. And we’ll be fine alone, we know that. There will be other holidays. Or we haven’t given up on having our own children someday or we really do love other people’s children but it’s still nice to be assured Christmas isn’t all about children, it’s about Jesus. Jesus came as a baby but He grew up. He loved children but He loved us all. He wove a long-barren woman, Elizabeth, into the Christmas story as well as the widow Anna, and the elderly Simeon. Even loss and sadness were part of the story when Herod ordered many children slaughtered in his efforts to take out the new king.

Jesus came for grown-ups and seniors, too. We were children once. He remembers our dreams. He knows what we’ve endured. He sees how hard we’ve tried. He takes joy in us even in our age because from His perspective, we are still very, very new to life. He knows what it feels like to be alone, to never marry, to live a life that is about something other than raising a family, a life set apart. And Mary would come to know great loss, wouldn’t she? And her Son would give her over to another’s care in her old age because by then, He would be home with His father. It’s all there, in the original story, don’t you see? Can you find the thread where God wove you into the Christmas that Jesus brought to earth?

There is another Christmas. It’s festive and fun. It’s not a bad thing, really. Nothing wrong with gifts, lavish meals, joyous songs, and gatherings. And, of course, there is much good in celebrating the children. But that is not the Christmas that comes to all so don’t be deceived if you’re missing that one that you’re missing Christmas.

The true Christmas, Jesus, comes to us wherever we make room for Him. He is not afraid to show up in waiting room at the rehabilitation center and hold your hand while your son is admitted. He is unafraid of the drunken brawl that breaks out at your mother’s house that the neighbors hear and call the police. He’s strong to save as you stare at the tubes keeping your daughter breathing after her attempt on her life when the Christmas tree lights feel like naked light bulbs in an interrogation on your entire life. Jesus is there, if you invite Him, when you’re fixing yourself a quiet meal and tea on your first Christmas without the man or woman who have shared every Christmas for fifty years before and your loved ones have gone home.

Christmas, the true Christmas, is about the lavish, relentless love that God had for us even when we broke His heart. The love so strong, so wise, so deep He gave us His only begotten Son. He named Him, Emmanuel, God with us. You see, God saw us floundering and flailing, caught up in the nets of our own sins but every time He drew near to save us, His glory and holiness frightened us so we only fought back. So, He became one of us so some would allow Him close enough to die for us so we can be free.

He didn’t go through all that to leave us alone because we’re working or wounded or childless or unmarried or broken or grieving or fallen on December 24th and 25th. He still comes near.

Christmas is all about you – you in relationship to Jesus Christ, loved ones. Wherever you are, may you feel – truly experience – the miracle of His presence in whatever circumstances this next forty-eight hours finds you. Be blessed and allow Him to bless you with Himself by inviting Him in to your corner of the world right now.

May mercy and grace find you this Christmas, in the name of Jesus Christ.

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1 Comment

    The Conversation

  1. Megan Vance says:

    Dear Lori,
    This is just beautiful and hits us right where we are living. Thank you for sharing it. Merry Christmas, because He lives!