I spent one Christmas alone. It felt odd, but it wasn’t a sad thing for me. I was living in Calgary and saving money to move to Ontario to begin the next level of my education.
On Christmas Eve (right on time for the male gender of the human species), I finished my Christmas shopping. The plan was to pack up Christmas Day, drop the gifts off in Saskatchewan on Boxing Day and leave for Ontario after that.
On the way back to my vehicle, however, I noticed a young boy sitting on a bench in the walking mall. He’d been crying. I inquired if he was all right and he began weeping and sobbing. I asked if I could sit with him and talk, and he nodded yes.
I learned that his name was Danny. He was 11 years old and his mother had died the previous day. When I asked him why he was not at home with his family, he explained that the house was full of company and his father and the house guests were all very drunk and rowdy, and he felt confused and afraid there.
We were getting cold and he admitted that he was hungry, so I took him for supper and then drove him home. I asked if I could come in and meet his family, but he said that would probably not be good. I prayed with him and gave him a New Testament and some money. I watched him go into a rundown house and left.
Danny would be almost 50 years old now and I’ve wondered whatever became of him. I’ve prayed for him many times.
Back at my apartment that night, I reread the Christmas story. When I came to the passage in Luke’s gospel where the angels tell the Shepherds, “… Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be for all people” (Luke 2:10), I paused.
The angelic proclamation said that the appearance of the Christ Child should diminish fear and increase joy.
Apparently, I thought, something has gone terribly wrong here. But what?
Well, the answer is there in the text. This great news of the arrival of God in the flesh, a Redeemer to eradicate fear and enhance joy, is a message that, “is for all people,” but not received by all people.
That is the qualifying … and/or disqualifying phrase. The message is, “for all people” — for you and me … but are we for the message?
“He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:11, 12)
Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.