Christmas can be a painful time for those experiencing grief and loss. The tragedies of this life do not take a holiday during December. My family knows this all too well. Two years ago this December, I was making Christmas cookies to send to school with my boys the next day. It was the final day before Christmas break, and I had a long list of tasks to accomplish, as well as work deadlines to meet. When the phone rang, I didn’t think much of it. My parents had been visiting my dad’s sister, when he’d had what we thought was a minor health issue. An ulcer, he was sure. No need to panic, he’d keep us posted. I finished the cookies, got the boys to bed, and was settling in when another call came. What was thought to be minor was not. My sister and I should come. Less than 24 hours later, we were gathered in an ICU room saying goodbye to one of the most important people in my life. Four days later we would celebrate Christmas in a kind of hazy, numb disbelief. What had happened?
My family’s story is not so unique. Tragedy comes daily in our world. So many experience loss over the holidays, and yet the carols keep playing, the lights keep shining, and the holiday rush keeps going. But here’s the good news. Jesus came to a people living in darkness bringing his light of hope. Jesus didn’t come in the midst of revels and feasts, but in a cold dark stable with two young people who were all on their own. There was no family nearby to celebrate the birth. There were no showers, no diaper cakes, not even a hot meal. Shortly after their child was born, these two young people, alone and completely unprepared for what God was doing, became political refugees, fleeing for their very lives into Egypt. Not only were they far from their families, they were far from their country and the traditions and religious practices that had governed their way of life. Things were a mess. And yet, God was with them–literally–in the child they worked so hard to protect. God is still with us today, even in the midst of our suffering and grief. God asks us to carry him to those who mourn, to those whose hearts are hurting while the world celebrates.
Pray today for those who are mourning. Pray for those who are struggling with broken relationships. Pray for those who have lost their homes or experienced crisis. Pray for those who are lonely.
Ask for God’s presence to be with all of those who grieve this Christmas and to fill them with hope.
Blessings and Peace,