We sat in a row by ourselves.
Christmas lights had been artistically arranged on the stage. The staff was adjusting their microphones and getting ready to begin the Christmas Eve service. The worship team was already in place. And hundreds of people, families and groups of friends, were streaming in the door.
For over a decade we’d spent the 24th at a Christmas Eve service at the church we had gone to for 12 years. We had sat in long rows next to both old friends and family. In our old church I could look around the small room and know, at least by sight, every face.
But this year everything was different. Six months before we had left that familiar church and now we were in a new place and everything thing about it, especially at Christmas, felt foreign.
Our tiny family filled up only one part of one row. We knew no one in the seats to our left or right. We didn’t even know the others across the auditorium.
On top of that, it was also the last Christmas we were spending in our home. Next to the gifts by the tree were piles of packing boxes waiting to go.
Waiting to be filled.
Waiting to leave.
We felt alone in so many ways.
I grabbed Chad’s hand in a desperate attempt for some kind of human interaction and held it on my lap. My daughters were wearing Christmas dresses no one would ooh-and-ahh over. My husband looked firm in his decision to be here and if I could have seen myself I think I would have seen fear, worry and resignation in my eyes.
O Holy Night.
Joy to the World.
Of course they were the same songs we’d sung everywhere. From caroling as kids to driving to look at Christmas lights last week, this music was part of our Christmas culture and had been ingrained in each of us.
Unto us a Child is born.
Unto us a Son is given.
Different church. New people. Same Savior. Same Christmas.
A young person showed up at the end of our row and held out a lit candle. We transferred the flame, wick to wick, down the row. And people we didn’t know minutes ago were somehow a part of the same community of worshipers that we were. And because of Jesus, we were a part of them.
I stood there with my tiny family, foreign in this odd place, and with the same candles we’d used for a decade in our old, safe place we felt illumined.
It’s okay to feel alone at Christmas. It’s okay to feel out of place and out of sorts. It’s okay to be depressed. But I want you to know that you are special. Because of a common Savior who has come as a baby, you belong. You belong right where you are. You are NOT a foreigner. You are not alone. You are part of a community and you are illumined.Leave a Comment