Christmas is a lonely time for a lot of people. Recent losses and and changes in their lives make this season of good cheer really tough for them.
It may be the elementary school child who’s parent is in Afghanistan or Iraq, or serving the nation on deployment elsewhere.
It might be the child of divorce.
It may be the single mother with no job or child support, who has had to endure the humiliation of being screened by countless agencies to see if she qualifies for any help.
It may be the man whose wife of 60 years died in the past year, and this is his first Christmas alone.
It may be the single person who just can’t seem to connect with anyone.
It may be the person unable to fly home to be with family at Christmas.
It may be the person who is struggling with mental issues.
And it may be the person, whose spouse or parent is still alive but who is in the lost world of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
It may be your next door neighbor who is never invited to the neighborhood parties, or has no one to bake cookies for.
Need I say more?
Over the years, I have found some ways to reach out to lonely people as well as people who are alone.
I have either written a personal note/card or called folks who are experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one.
For those who have experienced loss, and are living under the shadow of seemingly unrelenting grief, I have held a Blue Christmas service.
I have baked and delivered cookies.
I have invited them to have Christmas dinner with my family.
I made sure there was a present under the tree.
If they remained at the altar rail in prayer after being served communion, I have knelt with them, put my arm around them when appropriate and held them when they have cried.
I have left the pulpit area, and stood beside them as they experienced the emotion of a favorite carol.
Not by name, but by general circumstances, I remember the lonely and alone in prayer, and in the structure of liturgy.
I enlist laity to be on the lookout for someone who might need a visit.
The point is that it is easily to lose site of people who need to experience through you and me, the incarnation. The name of Jesus is Emmanuel, meaning “God with us.”
When we remember the lonely and alone, we have the privilege of becoming the real flesh and blood presence of the Christ child, the One named, Emmanuel.
Merry Christmas and God bless.