The days leading up to Christmas (Christmas Advent) are some of the most special days of the year. There are many traditions for us that make this time special: Christmas trees and decorations, Christmas cookies and holiday carols, year-end newsletters and a never-ending onslaught of year-end deals and sales. Welcome to the busy end of the year!
But for some the end of the year is especially difficult. It only reminds them of loved ones who are no longer here, or of broken relationships and families torn apart. For many who find themselves alone, Christmas is not a time of celebration, but of difficult retrospect. An endless strain of “what if’s” that fill the mind.
But the only difference between a great story and a bad story is where the story ends. The best stories have heartbreak, discord, love and loss. There’s betrayal and unmet expectations. Ironically, it’s the exact same ingredients of a bad story. Except bad stories end there — in the despair and heartbreak. In the bleak-midwinter hopelessness. It’s like watching a movie that ends before it gets good. Movies that do that flop. Everyone is cheering for a happy ending. And that’s exactly what Christmas is. A happy ending. A happy ending and a glorious new beginning!
This is the season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ whose name means “God saves.” Through Jesus, God saves us from our bad ending of despair and heartbreak, of loneliness and brokenness. Another name of Jesus is Emmanuel — “God with us.” God not only saves, but he entered into our mess, into our bad, lonely story and came to be with us in it, heal us of it and lead us out of it. That’s salvation.
You can rejoice this Christmas, even if you are alone and heartbroken, even if you made a mess of life or have fallen victim to it, because with the coming of Jesus into your life, your bad story won’t end there. It is being worked into a masterpiece story. All it takes is to call out to him — “Jesus, come save me! Enter into my life! I will follow you!” — and watch as the miracle of Christmas turns your life and story around, just as it has in the lives of millions and billions since the very first Christmas nearly 2,000 years ago.