“Home Alone” continues to be one of the most popular Christmas movies. To recall the plot, an eight-year-old boy’s family accidently leaves him at home for the holidays, while they jet off to Europe for vacation. Realizing his family is gone, the boy (Kevin) thinks he has permanently wished his family away, when he is confronted with two bungling burglars trying to raid his home, all while his mother tries to get back home to her home-alone son.
The movie is full of ridiculous and hilarious moments throughout. Yet this Christmas, there will be real people who are home alone in a way that’s not funny. They are people living near you and me, who are either living alone or might just feel lonely.
According to a news report, feelings of loneliness are on the rise, with “nearly half of Americans reporting sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).”
The study cited factors including the people’s lack of “regular, meaningful, in-person interactions”; social media use; and even lack of sleep or exercise. This crisis of loneliness is real, and it presents an opportunity for the church.
God’s Word tells us “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:8), and the Christmas story itself is a reminder that God did not leave Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus alone. He sent shepherds to visit them. He eventually sent the Magi, the wise men. And the very message of Christmas reminds us that God did not leave mankind alone: God is with us (Matt. 1:23).
This Christmas, we can pay special attention to others who may suffer from feelings of loneliness. It could be a widow or widower in your congregation. It could be a neighbor or a homeless person. It could be a foster child who needs attention.
This Christmas, look for ways to share the light of Christ with your very presence. Turn off your screens and look around you, asking God to show you someone you can bless.
It could be as simple as sending a card or giving them a call. Or as simple as visiting them and bringing a small treat or present.
One Christmas, I got roped into a Christmas caroling outing. It was particularly cold night, and a person in our group wanted us to make one last stop. It was at the home of their neighbor, whom they thought was a lost person, apart from God.
When we stopped at the man’s house, his wife said her husband wasn’t feeling well enough to come to the door. She asked if we could sing the Christmas carols loudly so he might hear and, I got the impression from her, so the man would know someone cared enough to come by to see him.
I was shocked to learn later that week, that the man had died that very night, mere hours after we came to carol. My heart hopes that the man heard the simple words of “Joy to the World, the Lord is come,” and repented and believed. That he knew he wasn’t alone.
And my hope this Christmas is that we all will find opportunities around us to share the light and presence of Jesus Christ with a dark and lonely world.