For many, this is a time of joy, celebration and exaltation. For others, it’s a reminder of how lonely they are.
My mother called yesterday. I call her regularly, but she reached out this time. And through the normal chitchat and catch up, she was obviously in a deep struggle with loneliness and depression. Tears were muffled as she expressed her emptiness from the loss of her husband a while back, and her first husband (my father) decades ago. She talked of those in her retirement home that were sick and how she continues to be isolated and almost forced to shelter in her room 24 hours a day. She is not an isolated case. Thousands upon thousands remain in this type of forced quarantine.
She does have her phone, and she uses it. But there are many who don’t have family to call, don’t have friends to connect with, don’t have a support group to talk to as they trek through this journey.
I know this is a repeated conversation, but it got me to thinking of one young girl 2000 years ago who also was isolated.
Pregnant outside of marriage – a cultural taboo that could’ve cost her her life – but this pregnancy wasn’t her doing. Her fiancée almost dumped her, and would’ve had God not intervened. Her family sent her away to be with someone. Her being “with child” placed her into a type of social quarantine.
And when her betrothed and her had to travel, they did it alone to a tiny village. And upon arrival, they couldn’t even find a room to stay in … and this was in a culture that emphasized hospitality.
Isolated in a stable, or maybe even a grotto (cave) for animals, she gave birth. Accompanied only by her now husband, she brought forth a child.
Another reason for her isolation was knowing how special this child was and not really being able to share it. Divinely conceived with a destiny beyond what she could even comprehend … this young girl truly carried a great emotional and spiritual weight upon her.
And then there were shepherds, also people who live in a type of isolation. That is unless you count the hundreds of wooly, four-legged creatures. Working the graveyard shift away from town and away from social interaction. Not an easy life.
But this young girl, and these scruffy sheep herders, had their isolated little lives interrupted by the supernatural event of the Creator of, well of everything. The Lord God Almighty emerged into human form in the form of a tiny baby, the Christ child.
No isolation, no quarantine, no social outcasting can stop the joy of knowing Jesus. I know we were created as relational beings, needing companionship, but that should never take away from finding the hope, peace, joy and love of knowing Jesus.
So this Christmas, take some time to reach out to someone that just might need a virtual hug. Give a call, send a card, let them know they are not alone.
And this Christmas, I hope you know the real reason for joy … His name is Jesus.
Here is a cool activity down at an Ohio nursing home. Idea brought laughter all across our nation.