For some folks, the bookends that seem to hem them in during the holiday season are Loneliness and…Loneliness. An old Christmas song plays on the radio as we speed off to another store. That particular song brings to the surface a memory from yesterday accompanied by a lonely feeling. We brake at a stoplight and it envelopes us. We can’t handle it. We hit the accelerator and move on.
Though a national Christian bookstore retailer refused to carry Amy Grant’s latest Christmas offering, one song from that album gets me, penned by Grant and Ed Cash:
“Mary’s in a nursing home. She puts her favorite records on, reminds her of the years long gone, another Merry Christmas. Billy’s home from overseas, the pride of his whole family. Still fights a war that no one sees, another Merry Christmas. It’s happy and sad, the good and the bad. Someone’s up, someone’s barely hanging on. It’s everything all at once, if we’re honest enough everybody wants to be loved. Every year on Christmas Eve Jill hangs four stockings, now just three. Wonders if there’ll ever be another Merry Christmas. Our painted old nativity is fragile like the lives we lead, silently reminding me God is with us, Another Merry Christmas.”
It’s interesting there are two other songs on that same album about loneliness. The promo video for the album “Tennessee Christmas” can be found on YouTube, where Grant describes the unhappy Christmas’ from years past experienced by her record producers.
Thomas Merton said, “The man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own loneliness and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God.”
How does the celebration of Christmas intersect with the lonely? God chose lonely shepherds on a dark night to be the very first group of people to hear the announcement of Jesus’ birth. Shepherds in those days were regarded as the insignificant ones.
Listen to the biblical account which Linus reads on prime time television every year on A Charlie Brown Christmas:
“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them, “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2:8-11, NLT)
Where is God in the darkness of another lonely moment that eats away at your soul? In between the bookends of your circumstances. He is Emmanuel, which means GOD WITH US. Dreading another holiday season? Why not make room for Him to come in to where you are.
pictures courtesy of “Nelson & his Nikon”