First an easy question. Where will you spend Tuesday 25th December? Almost certainly you will spend Christmas at home with family and friends, unless you have to do essential work. The second question is more difficult. How do you “do Christmas” if you have a broken heart? Christmas is a tough time for those grieving or struggling with life. A broken life/home makes for a sad Christmas.
We have a homing instinct at Christmas. Getting home may involve expensive and difficult travel by cars, trains, planes and ferries. You have my sympathy if weather or a cancelled connection messes up your plans to get home. We go home for the people, not just the rich food, bright lights, and log fires.
At the first Christmas God made His home among us. Jesus' birth was the Immanuel-God-with-us event. God made his home, first in the womb of the Virgin, and then cradled by the faithful among her people. Sadly God-with-us was not welcomed by everyone. Herod tried to kick Immanuel out. Later, Jesus’ jealous siblings, plus Jewish and Roman leaders and Temple authorities all tried to kick him out. John’s gospel recalls, “He came to that which was his own (literally: the home people), but his own (the home people) did not receive him”. The next sentence is filled with Christmas good news: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed on his name, he gave the right to become children of God...”
God was born into our human family so that we could be born into His family. Those who receive God-with-us by trusting in Jesus will be at home with God forever. I want God to heal your broken heart this Christmas. Don’t try to heal heartache with excessive spending, entertainment or a new romance.
No purchase or party can fix brokenness.
I am constantly amazed to see God at work healing heartache. But in the past few days I have met many believers and non-believers drowning in pain. I think of people bereaved by the suicide of a 16-year-old son, or those struggling with unpayable debts, or those trying to escape a sad heart by chasing sex and intimacy outside of God’s plan. Paramedics attended my local Academy three times last week to treat or resuscitate teenagers at severe risk of harm or death after messing with toxic vaping fluids. My area of Scotland has seen an epidemic of young women and men taking their own lives. Tinsel and glitter and a party season are all very well, but they simply will not fix a world like this. Instead, I offer you an unusual Christmas Bible verse: Don’t let anyone deceive you… when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.
As I wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas I need to ask a final question. Will your Christmas homing instinct bring you to God this year? I long to see darkness and misery destroyed by the Son of God. Will you ask the God to make his home with you? Will you take time to learn more, perhaps by attending a Carol Service and learning why Christians worship Jesus?
Are you ready to welcome home Jesus as your Immanuel?
Angus MacRae is Moderator of the Free Church General Assembly and Minister at Dingwall & Strathpeffer Free Church.