Imagine entering a building. While it wasn’t too cold outside, it is a warm welcome as you enter. The stress of the workday slowly leaves your body and your shoulders relax. From the lobby you can hear music. A piano is being played and people are singing. It is a balm to your spirit to hear the holiday songs together with lyrics that proclaim the glory of our Lord. The air is filled with the sweet smells of the traditional holiday foods. A photographer offers to take a family photo. Your heart rejoices as you see so many of your friends gathered. In the main room there are comfortable chairs, a seat is saved for you. But before you can sit down you are greeted with hugs from friends who have become like family. The holiday candles are lit, with prayers that the light of God will fill the earth.
Together you eat. There is more than enough. Your little kids are running around, excited to see their friends. After the food all the children hurry upstairs, there is a SuperBook movie for them and fun activities about miracles. Your teenager makes her way upstairs too. Tonight, she will be taught how to make wise financial decisions. You say a quick prayer that she will listen and hopefully not make some of the mistakes you made.
You sit with your friends. The room is a whole lot quieter now that the children are upstairs. Together you listen to an encouraging word; about the holiday, the importance of community, on the miracle of a changed life. Music is played again, and you enter into worship. The love of the Lord fills your heart and lifts you up. You form a smaller circle with the women next to you. Each of you shares her burdens and together you lift them up to the Lord. You pray for each other’s children. You encourage the woman next to you and she encourages you. You hug each other tightly, you both know how the other feels and what it is like.
You are a single mother, your family is small, it is just you and your children. Your husband isn’t in the picture anymore, for various reasons. Life is difficult, and every day is a struggle. You work hard to provide for your children & yourself. You face more challenges then you’d ever imagine possible. You feel alone, most of the time.
But tonight, on the 3rd night of Chanukah, as you gather your children to take the bus home, your heart is full. Every family got a gift card for the holiday, which is a huge blessing. But the biggest blessing of this evening was being together, being heard, being seen, being encouraged. And being reminded that you are never ever truly alone!