People are making a living hugging people. Several companies now employ freelance huggers who charge $60 to $80 an hour to give purely platonic hugs. You can also rent a friend for $23 an hour. There are more than 500,000 people to choose from on the website RentAFriend.
This phenomenon is a symptom of our times. In 1980, twenty percent of Americans said they were lonely. Today the number has more than doubled.
Here’s the good news: Christmas proves that your Father loves you unconditionally. No matter what the world thinks of you. No matter what you think of yourself. How do I know? Because I’ve been where it happened. On this Christmas Day, I’d like to take you there.
We all have manger scenes at home. They picture the scene the way we imagine it: an idyllic stable with a beautiful crib for the Christ child surrounded by lovely worshippers in beautiful flowing robes.
None of this is the way it really was.
The Wise Men did not arrive until two years after Jesus’ birth. The shepherds were lowly field hands. Mary was a teenage girl married to Joseph, a peasant carpenter. They were from Nazareth, a town so small it is not mentioned even once in the Old Testament.
The place where Jesus was born is a cave—thirty-nine feet long, eleven feet wide, low at its entrance and nine feet at its highest point. The only light came from a flickering fire, its smoke stinging the eyes of those crowded inside. There was no circulation, so the air was damp and musty. Animals were stabled here—imagine the smell of a barn, multiplied many times. This is the place where Jesus was born.
The baby was placed in a stone feed trough—a rocky platform chiseled out for feeding animals. Where donkeys and mules and sheep had been licking up barley and oats, the Lord of the universe was laid.
The wonder of it all is that Jesus chose to be born here. He was the only baby ever to choose his birthplace. He could have chosen Jerusalem, or Athens, or Rome, but he chose Bethlehem. He could have chosen a palace, but he chose the cave of Christmas.
Now it’s your turn to choose him. Choose to display him in your life today by your choices, attitudes, words, and actions. Be his home publicly, so that others can see Jesus living in you. Crown him the King of your life and allow him to make your cave into whatever he wishes you to be.
C. S. Lewis: “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking about the house in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but he is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself.”
The cave where Jesus was born proves that every day is Christmas.