May the love of God the Father bring unexpected comfort to your home today, connecting hearts that are apart, and reconfiguring family this Christmas.

May the hope of God the Son, born into dark disruption and deep uncertainty, ignite a little light in your home today, surprising you with joy this Christmas.

May the peace of God the Holy Spirit console your soul today, filling your heart and your home with the serenity of his presence this Christmas.

And so let us return to that first Christmas to find a fearful mother as she brings her baby into such a dark place and time in history. It is not what she wanted.

See the uncertainty etched in the man’s features, worried and unable to properly provide, feeling clumsy, unsure of his own role and involvement. It is not what he wanted.

Consider their sense of isolation at a time of such vulnerability, far away from loved-ones and home. It is not what they wanted.

Imagine the frustration they feel, forced to be here now, against their will, at this most intimate moment by the relentless demands of a distant government. It is not what they wanted.

This year of all years, perhaps we may celebrate with new understanding the Christmas no one wanted. The fragility of life in the shadow of death, the hope of healing in a dangerous environment, the love ephemeral yet eternal, born to a tiny, vulnerable, isolated, disorientated, disappointed, fearful, fragile family, which is Immanuel, God with us (when others can’t be with us), a Light that shines in the darkness, a defiant hope in spite of everything, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Used with Pete’s permission