Exodus 13:21 – And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. (NKJV)
Christmas is a time of anticipation, and a time of travel, like that very first night, awaiting the birth of the Christ Child. Parents and grandparents anxiously await the time they will be reunited with their children and grandchildren, sharing memories, and making new ones. They are thankful for this celebration of Jesus' birth bringing families together.
In wondering who will be home for Christmas, may we be mindful that there are families for whom a loved one will not be at their table this year, a loved one who has been called to their eternal home before Christmas. These families, too, wait in anticipation, but it is often an anticipation of something they dread. There will also be those for whom Christmas travels end in tragedy.
In a perfect world, perhaps this would not happen, but God has not promised us a world without sorrow, not even on Christmas, the most beautiful day of the year. What He has promised us is that He will be with us through our joys and our sorrows, no matter what our mode of travel, how far our journey takes us, or when it will end.
As we come together in celebration of the Christ Child, may we make memories to last a lifetime, and may memories already made sustain those for whom Christmas this year may not feel like a time to celebrate.
Prayer: Our Father, creator of heaven and earth, we thank you for the birth of your son, Jesus, and for the opportunity to bring families and friends together. Bless those for whom Christmas is not a time of celebration. Guide their goings and comings, so that people who can comfort and understand will be placed in their path, amidst gaiety they do not feel. Grant them your peace, and grace them with hope for the New Year. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.