Each December my Mom and I sit down to watch both Christmas episodes of “Eureka”. If you haven’t watched it, Eureka is a comedic twist on science fiction that follows a sheriff in a town populated by crazy scientists.
In “O Little Town”(Season 4, Ep. 10), the first of the two holiday episodes, we find everyone trapped in the town because the electromagnetic shield that protects the town from foreign spy attempts is out of whack, making it more electric than magnetic.
As we experience the town during a rather warm Christmas, we get to know how each character approaches the holiday. Jack misses his families arguments over football. Allison is talking about every detail as she is going way over the top for her children. Zoe is trying to figure out who is playing secret Santa. Taggert is pioneering the new science he calls “Santology” or the study of Santa Claus. Amidst all this is the Global Dynamics Christmas party, the biggest holiday soiree in the town. With all the craziness Jo Lupo is a Grinch. She is just trying to survive the season and does not want any of it.
This Grinch attitude may come off as crazy, but it is experienced by many people. To often at this time of year we focus so much on the merriment that we forget that some are simply not comfortable in all of the tinsel and lights. Jo has a serious reason as most people do. In her case she misses her family. All her brothers are overseas in the service. Their lives are on the line and she can’t sit down with them for dinner or watch a Christmas movie with them or throw snowballs at them. In fact, she has not seen them in years.
We tend to get caught up in the joy of Christmas and rightfully so but in our joy we must open our eyes to those around us who have a rough time during the holidays. Some of them have recently lost loved ones and just are not in a place to celebrate. Some lost loved ones years ago but it stings so much more in this season. Many of us who are single get frustrated because we’ve had years of rejection and the myth of Hallmark is held so highly this time of year. Then you have those who are sick or injured and stuck at a hospital.
Within the Christmas story we sometimes discuss the craziness of the night when Herod sent soldiers to kill babies. Matthew 2 tells us that God warned Joseph in a dream about the event so Jesus and his family got out of it. Not everyone got out of that town. Many families were stuck and lived the horror of the massacre. So yes there is space in the complex story of Christmas to recognize pain, grief, and sorrow. This season is not merry for everyone.
Some churches hold Blue Christmas services. These services don’t try to push the glib joy on people. They sit in the sadness and approach Christmas from a standpoint of loneliness and pain. The amazing thing is that Jesus came for those moments. He isn’t just here for celebration but for pain, rejection, loneliness, disease, confusion and grief. If you are in a rough time and not in a space for merriment, I encourage you to find a church near you that is holding a Blue Christmas event. It likely will not be on Christmas Eve. All Shores Wesleyan Church in Spring Lake, MI is doing one on the 21 because that is the shortest day of the year leading into the longest night.
Who can you sit beside this season? Someone who is lonely. Who lost a loved one. Who is sick or rejected. How can you be patient with them or give them hope? Jesus said that he came for people who needed a doctor. Those who were downcast. Those who recognized their own sin but also those who sit in suffering.