“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” Psalm 25:16 (NRSV)
This is another of my favorite holiday films and most of the movie is set within a few days before Christmas until a few days after New Year’s Day. This romantic comedy stars Sandra Bullock as Lucy Moderatz, a Chicago Transit Authority token collector, and Bill Pullman as Jack Callaghan, a furniture craftsman and the brother of Peter, on whom Lucy has a secret crush. When Peter is accidentally pushed onto the train tracks, Lucy rescues him and at the hospital she meets Peter’s family and later at the Callaghan home Lucy meets Jack. It is while Peter is sleeping (really in a coma) that she falls in love with Jack.
What we learn early on in the film is that Lucy is very lonely. Her mother died when she was very young. Lucy was an only child and she and her father were very close. Her father had a terminal illness and died so she is all alone. Since she has no family, her supervisor often schedules her to work holidays instead of other co-workers. From the dialogue we hear Lucy lament that she has “nobody to laugh with.” Lucy also says, “You have no idea what it is like to be alone.” One time she even asks, “Have you ever felt so alone that you spend a night talking to a man in a coma?”
Viewing this film reminds me that there are lonely people in our world and their loneliness is often intensified at the holidays, especially as families gather together to celebrate. It would be wonderful if all experiencing this painful loneliness found their situation resolved as easily as it is done in this film. All of us at one time or another, experience loneliness and the good news of Christmas is that we are reminded that none of us is ever alone. From the prophecy of Isaiah to its fulfillment in the Gospel of Matthew, we learn of the other name of Jesus. “Behold the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name, Immanuel,” which translated means ‘God with us.’” While all of us may take comfort in knowing that God is with us and that God will never fail or forsake us, it is also important that we reach out to those who experience loneliness at the holidays. In showing them love and compassion, we may make Christ’s presence with them more tangible.
“O come, O come, Emmanuel” is an Advent hymn, we sing, O Lord. We thank You that Your son Jesus has come and promises to come again. We thank You that He was born and among the names He was given is “Emmanuel” or “Immanuel,” which when translated means, “God with us.” Hear us as we pray for all who feel lonely at Christmas. Embrace them in Your loving arms and show us how to reach out to them, making Your presence with them more tangible. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.