I stood in line to pay for my gasoline. Bing Crosby crooned over the store’s speaker, “It’s the hap, hap, happiest time of the year!”
However, my heart felt heavy with the pain I had heard in the counseling office over the past week. I could not help but question the song.
Is Christmas the happiest time of the year?
For many, it is not.
The Christmas message of joy, hope, and peace – of God’s Son sent to save us – cannot be heard by some who walk daily in a haze of emotional pain and brokenness. The family oriented and gift centered frenzy of activity brings no comfort to them; in fact, it contributes to their sense of loss and hurt.
The lyrics pumped out through seemingly every store and gas station in the country promote Christmas cheer. However, to the lonely, sad, or ones in broken or estranged families, the hurt only seems magnified by these messages.
The many stories I have heard during this season from emotionally pained people struggling with the Christmas holiday flashed through my mind: the little girl whose Daddy died this year, the sobbing man who lost his lifelong love to cancer, the weeping woman whose son committed suicide, entire families broken through offenses and estrangement. My heart hurts for them all.
Pastor, I am sure you hear such stories as well. For all of these people and more it’s not the happiest time of the year.
In fact, some churches offer “Blue Christmas” services designed to directly speak to pain, grief and loss, and offer comfort.
The mere act of acknowledging someone’s pain helps bring healing to a broken heart. A word, a prayer, a sentence in a sermon, a Blue Christmas service can all make a difference.
I pray that this Christmas that the words you preach will bring someone healing and hope. I pray that the true message of peace this Christmas would penetrate hearts and restore to wholeness.
Let’s pray that the words of Jesus quoting the prophet Isaiah, “He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted , to proclaim liberty to the captives , and the opening of the prison to them that are bound “ (61:1) will become a reality for all those we touch this Christmas season!