“The year my dad– who was a pastor at the time– was caught in his addiction, the Church leadership asked him and my mom to not attend the Christmas Eve service. The investigation was ongoing and they wanted him to step back while it happened.

What they didn’t count on, I don’t think, was for me to show up at the service.
I have a deep commitment to tradition so when my parents said we weren’t going to the service, I resolved to go by myself.

Under the weight of uncertainty and the fear of what I had suspected might just be a true accusation, I showed up to the candlelight service.

Families were there to celebrate, it was Christmas after all.
I found my usual spot at the front and as the first carols rang out, my tears began to fall. I felt like an imposter. I was a cloud of grief and darkness amidst a cheerful celebration. I felt guilty for dampening the time of rejoicing

As I sat I found myself talking to Jesus. “I’m ruining your party,” I told him.
It was his response in that moment that changed Christmas for me forever. He told me, Cassie, I came to that manger as a baby not for those in celebration, but for those in mourning.
I came for you. In this moment. Right here.

For the first time in my relatively easy life, I was tasting heartache (and oh if only I knew how much more would come). And it was there that Jesus showed me the heart of Christmas. Jesus stepped down to pursue the broken and the hurting and the lost.

If this year broke you down. Isolated you. Left you grieving or fearful or hurt. I want you to know that you don’t have to muster up cheer. You don’t have to feel like a downer in the midst of celebration. You can sit at the feet of a savior who came for you where you’re at right now. That’s how Immanuel works. It’s God with us in the dirt giving us hope in the face of despair.

“Those who walk in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in spaces of deepest darkness a light has dawned.” – Isaiah 9:2” end of post.