It’s almost Christmas, and you’re a long ways from home. In fact, you’re so far away that going home is out of the question.
I’m writing this because that’s been my experience–more than once. It took a few years for me to get to this point but I learned to accept that where I was–that was home. Whether it is or not is not the issue. Facts are facts, and if you’re spending Christmas a continent (figuratively or physically) away from what you used to call home, it can be a downer.
So … I thought of a few ways you might explore to deepen your experience of Christmas.
No, it’s not much trouble. It’s still the birth celebration of our Lord and Savior. Consider that you will be celebrating with millions of believers what the day means. Even if it’s …
- You and your mate,
- You and the other members of your military unit,
- You and the other inmates where you are incarcerated,
- You and the people in the care facility where you live,
- You and your children,
- You and a parent, or
- It’s just you by your lonesome …
In fact, having other people around sometimes complicates our ability to approach the Almighty to worship him … to celebrate that holy night when Jesus came to show us what God is like.
So you adapt. Yes, the day is almost upon us but here are ten things you can use, to help you experience this Christmas in your special way:
- A journal. Record insights, a prayer for those you love, your emotions, whatever.
- A Bible. Prepare for that day by each day reading something from the biblical record the accounts of Christ’s coming: Matthew 1:18-2:23; Luke 1:1-2:40
- The Old Testament shimmers with promises of the coming King: Psalm 130:5-7; Isaiah 9:6-7; 40:5. Consider what these prophecies mean to you.
- Pick up a book of Advent readings at a used bookstore. Advent (the season of expectant waiting for the coming of Christ) began the fourth Sunday before December 25.
- Jim Bishop’s “The Day Christ Was Born” gives a journalist’s view of this event.
- Mary Phraner Warren wrote two wonderful books about Christmas: the children’s book, “The City That Forgot About Christmas,” and “The Land of Christmas.” We read them time and again. Can you find something for your children?
- Your favorite music from earlier times. Here, my university performs an hour plus of “The Messiah”:http://www.ostate.tv/channels/college-arts-sciences?play=EC858CBD-B98B-9A7F-9CA6-501D53084B10
- Gifts: for children or the street person who won’t otherwise experience the joy of Christmas.
- Christmas dinner: invite a new acquaintance to dine with you—in your home, or simply at your table in the cafeteria. Share with them what you’ve discovered about Christmas.
- Attend a Christmas eve service—alone or take someone with you. Be purposeful. Write in your journal what you expect God to do for you or show you.
A number of years ago, my wife and I and our two small children, Allison and Loren, were ten time zones away from what had been home as Christmas approached. While we appreciated the lack of commercialization of Christmas in our country, we wanted to celebrate Christmas. Though not from a high church tradition, we had found Advent readings to be meaningful, so began daily readings during the season.
We made our own decorations, which was a lot of fun. Getting a tree proved more difficult. Finally, we decide to go to a nearby town (actually an adjoining country!) and found a spindly pine. It wasn’t much but it gave us a sense of the familiar, of permanence in accepting where we were.
We had our family and we were able to reach out to other people. In small ways, by continuing our traditions, God blessed us as we worshiped in our way.
Is there a way you could share the joy of Christmas with someone who is far, far away from what they call home? If you’re alone, what will you try to do to encounter the Christ?
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.