So [the shepherds] went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. — Luke 2:16 (NRSV)
I was terribly lonely my first semester of college. I was attending a school several hours from home and knew no one before setting foot on campus. Desperately wishing for the familiarity of home and the support and reassurance of lifelong friends, I was not actively seeking to build a new life at school. Finally, at the urging of my mother, I began to look for ways to fill my lonely hours. I did odd jobs around campus, spent time getting to know my professors, and attended some club meetings. As I built new relationships my loneliness ebbed, and I began to feel more connected to my new home. When I went seeking new relationships and endeavors, I found life-giving friendships and a new sense of purpose.
In this issue, many writers describe feelings of loneliness and the unique ways they search for companionship and contentment in the midst of those feelings. The result for these writers — and for me — is a deeper relationship with God who came to us as a baby that first Christmas.
In the Gospel accounts of the Christmas story, none of the key players stumbled upon the Christ child by accident. Encountering Christ required action and effort. Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem for the census, the shepherds got up from the field and went to see the child in the manger, the magi followed a star to the place where Jesus lay. Each person had to make a decision to seek this child of God. But all who did found a gift beyond their expectations; they found the Light of the World.
This season, let us go out to renew friendships and show compassion to our neighbors. In so doing, I believe we will find the Christ child once again.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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