Our society projects this idea that Christmas, with its holiday get-togethers and emphasis on family and children, is primarily for intact, loving, happy families. Even the Christmas movies that have characters who are lonely or grieving tend to end with a new or healed relationship as part of their Christmas miracle. If your real life doesn't match up to that image, it is easy to assume that Christmas is just not for you.
But - what if that is all a myth? Worse, what if it's a lie?
It is. Because the true, first Christmas was not about any of that. When you look in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, you discover that Christmas is for...
...the pregnant-out-of-wedlock teenage girl. That is what Mary was (Luke 1:26-27). Sure, it was miraculous and she was pure. But no one else knew that. They all thought that she had strayed from her betrothal, maybe worthy of stoning even. Christmas was for her.
...the betrayed. That is what Joseph was (Matthew 1:18-19). He was so sure Mary had betrayed him during the time of their betrothal that he was prepared to divorce her quietly and send her away. Christmas was for him.
...the confused and homesick. That is what Joseph and Mary were. Wondering how God was going to work this miracle in their lives. Wondering how it would change their lives. Trying desperately to follow him in obedience, even when it meant traveling hundreds of miles from their homes and families (Luke 2:4). Christmas was for them.
...the societal rejects. That's what the shepherds were. Not exactly the most admired or desired job in Israel. Shepherds were generally looked down upon and seen as ceremonially unclean. And yet, they were the first to hear about the birth of the Messiah (Luke 1:8-15). Christmas was for them.
...the teenage boys. That's what the shepherds were, too. Not grizzled old men, in spite of what a lot of nativity scenes show. Remember how David was assigned the job of watching the sheep while his older brothers fought in Israel's battles (1 Samuel 16:11)? Watching the sheep was often the job of young, boisterous, teenage boys. Christmas was for them.
...the widow. That's what Anna was (Luke 2:36-38). Married for a brief time, followed by a lifetime of widowhood. And then, in her eighties, when most would have assumed her life was over, she got to see the infant Jesus and sing his praises. Christmas was for her.
...the old man. That's what Simeon was (Luke 2:25-35). An old man who spent his days in the Temple, waiting to see the Messiah. Probably the topic of gossip and wisecracks until, at last, he held Jesus in his arms. Christmas was for him.
...the highly educated and non-religious. That's what the Magi were (Matthew 2:1-12). The PhDs of their day, known for their studies and their scrolls as they followed the astronomical signs to the new King of Israel. Gentiles, no less - and yet, God guided them to the child Jesus. Christmas was for them.
...the poverty-stricken. That's what Mary and Joseph were, or they would have given a better offering at Jesus' dedication than two turtle doves (Luke 2:22-24). So were the shepherds, no doubt. Christmas was for them.
...the insanely wealthy. That's what Herod was (Matthew 2:4). He was told who Jesus was and where to find him. He could have chosen to worship. Instead, he chose to destroy. But Christmas was still for him.
...the bereaved mother. That's what the mothers of Bethlehem were, after King Herod's murderous rampage (Matthew 2:16-18). More than a dozen little boys killed in his jealous desire to eliminate any threat to his throne. There was no Christmas miracle for them. They didn't know that the Child, the one who escaped, was born to bring peace to those who were suffering. Christmas was for them, too.
Are you any of these this Christmas?
Confused? Alone? Betrayed? Bereaved? Too old or too young? Highly educated? Poor as dirt? Lonely?
Christmas is for you.
Whatever you are, this is your season more than anyone else's. Because Jesus was born to bring light into darkness and hope into hopelessness and healing into pain.
How? By leaning hard into him, trusting him to rescue us from ourselves and our sin more than anything else, and trusting that He is indeed the fullness of Immanuel, God with us. When we do, He fills our lives with that light, that hope, that healing.
That is what He came for. That is what He does. Again and again, life after life, broken heart after broken heart. Not bringing a Hollywood ending to your story, but one far better than that, because whatever happens in this world, even if He does not fix things the way you want Him to, in the end you have Him. Forever.
And that makes all the difference, especially at Christmas.