Grieving is an interesting thing, especially at the holidays. I generally love Christmas and love the joy that it brings and the message of joy that God gave to all people through the birth of His Son, Jesus. And that is still very true for me this year.
But, there's also the sadness I feel when I think of celebrating this Christmas without my dad here on earth with us. And there's the new empathy and compassion I feel for others around me who have experienced loss this year, or in recent years. Of course, I think of my own family: my mom, my sister, my brother-in-law, my son, my nieces, my aunts and uncles, who are also grieving in their own ways. Others also come to mind: the friend and her young son who lost their husband/daddy to cancer this past summer; the friends who also lost older parents this year; friends who are dealing with illness (their own or their parent's); friends who have gone through divorces this year. I find myself wanting to extend love and comfort to these loved ones, as well as seeking comfort for myself.
The Christmas carol, "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" has been coming to mind a lot this year. Or maybe when I hear it now, the words from the refrain ring truer and louder in my ears:
O tidings of comfort and joy,It was far from a perfect world that Jesus came into as a baby, and it was not a comfortable situation in the Bethlehem stable for his parents. But the reason He came, "to save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray" and the fact that Jesus is our Emmanuel, "God with us," brings me great comfort and joy, even in my grief.
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!
The last stanza of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" encourages us to sing praises and to extend love and brotherhood, while remembering the message of redeeming grace:
Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood,
Each other now embrace.
This holy tide of Christmas
Doth bring redeeming grace.
My prayer for my family, my friends and for myself, is that we would press closer to Jesus in our times of sadness and in our times of joy, and in doing so, would know a deeper sense of His presence and comfort.