Christmas is traditionally the time of family get-togethers and sharing. Yet for many in our society, because of the fragmenting of the family, it's the time of greatest pain and loneliness. More suicides occur over this period than any other time of the year.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies estimates that 25 per cent of those under 30 will never marry.
According to social psychologist Hugh Mackay, about 45 per cent of Australian marriages now end in divorce.
Mackay says loneliness is becoming an increasingly significant social problem as more than 50 per cent of Australian households now contain only one or two people. The single-person household is the most common household type in Australia. “If those people feel a bit lonely, a bit isolated or a bit ‘cut-off,' who can blame them?” How tragic that the real joy and meaning of Christmas is often lost in our crass consumerism and partying.
Christmas is meant to be a symbol of hope. It tells us we are not alone, that there is a Person behind the cosmos who cares. He came in the Person of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago.
1. What title is given to Jesus at His birth?
Matthew 1:21-23 “She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins … and they will call him Immanuel — which means, ‘God with us.'”
2. What did Jesus do to show us how much God loves us?
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
3. What was the supreme act of love on God's part?
1 John 4:9, 10. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
4. What has God lavished on us?
1 John 3:1. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” The King of the universe, in His great love for us, calls us His children. What a privilege and honour He has given us! Jesus has turned away God's anger against sin, by dying on the cross for us and paying for our sins.
5. What promise did Jesus make just before he ascended to heaven?
Matthew 28:20 “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
6. What similar promise was made hundres of years before to God's people?
Deuteronomy 31:6 “The Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
7. What can separate us from God's love?
Romans 8:38, 39. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
8. What example did Jesus use to show God's care for us?
Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
9. What has Jesus to say to those who are lonely and burdened?
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” If we do this, Christmas will be different this year; rather than a time of despair, it will be a symbol of hope.