“The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1.28)
Christmas can be a very lonely time. Friends of the Elderly claim that over half a million elderly people spent last Christmas alone. No doubt some spent the Christmas season on their own because they had no relatives to visit them. Sadly, others had relatives who chose not to involve them in their festive celebrations.
Of course it is not just physical loneliness that people can make the Christmas period a painful one. Christmas is a time when feelings of grief and loss can be heightened. When the impact of broken relationships is most keenly felt. Even if you are surrounded by people, the ache in your heart can make you feel isolated and detached from even your most caring friends.
And of course there is the loneliness of wrestling with those fears that seem particularly strong at Christmas. Like the fear of not having enough money. Or the fear of what will happen when all the family gets together.
The news of Christmas must have brought, at least initially, a sense of isolation to Mary. She was greatly troubled at Gabriel’s words. And that’s before the angel announced that she was going to have a pregnancy brought about by the Holy Spirit. There was the sense that from now on her life would be different: there’s no business as usual after a meeting with Gabriel. All would change from here on in. Even Gabriel’s pronouncement of blessing and his efforts to allay her fears cannot prevent her anxiously wondering what he is going to say next.
The thought of Christmas might be making you feel greatly troubled. You simply don’t know what it is going to bring or how you are going to get through it. It might be the fear of your grief and pain from the last year reaching an unbearable intensity. It might be the fear that you just won’t have the money to give your children the kind of Christmas you want to give them. It might be the fearful rather than the exciting prospect of all the family getting together. Or it might be the dread of spending Christmas alone.
Whatever it is and however fearful you might feel, you need and have the same reassurance that Mary had, though not from an angel. The Lord is with you however fearful the Christmas that you are facing, just as much as he was with Mary as she began her lonely journey into the unknown of the first Christmas.