At choir practice recently, we shared prayer requests as we always do. And the one that stood out before we prayed was for a friend who had a recent loss of a loved one, making Christmas an especially sad time, when the world wants it to be all about joy and excitement, parties and the rush of laughter, not the sadness of loss, the pain of remembering.
It occurs to me, that every Christmas is a bit like that for ALL of us. Christmases past are lost to us, except for the memories. We’ve all lost a loved one, or perhaps just a sense of the joy that surrounded us when we were children. The anticipation we are supposed to feel during Advent, is often the anticipation of getting it over with. Memories, good and bad, flood us with both happiness and regret, joy and sorrow. We miss those who may have made the day for us with their genuine goodness and love, and those whose craziness and frustrating characteristics made us anticipate the family gathering, and brought us something to remember and talk about afterward! We get bogged down with trying to make a day for our loved ones that is memorable, without tears, with perfect food, perfect decorations, perfect entertainment… that we miss the meaning of the day. The “perfect” child of God has come to us!
When a new baby comes to us, a child, grandchild, loved one, or even a pet… the appearance of that small creature sent by God thrills our hearts, and makes us as spontaneously happy as they seem to be.
I read something recently that I had written in my journal about a new kitten that had come to us a few months before Christmas. (We still have her, but she’s much older, now.) The reaction to her antics, especially around the Christmas tree – batting at ornaments and stealing them to leave in her food bowl or swatting them around the house, climbing the tree, sitting in the branches and pouncing on people and our other cat as they walked by – antics which were both annoying and frustrating, and delightfully entertaining, bringing both joy and frustration to our lives.
All the pictures that we have of our children and grandchildren were taken to remind us of their special qualities to both delight and infuriate us when they were young. Reminders of the pure joy and love of life itself that comes from ANY new and growing creature. They have interjected themselves into our lives and we have grown to love them – in both sorrow and joy.
As the baby Christ interjects himself once again into our lives this year at Christmas, may we fall in love with him again. May we learn to love his ways as we get to know him. May we find laughter and joy-filled moments, may we grow with him in both frustration and delight. And with moments of comfort and quiet.
In our joys and sorrows of this season, let us remember that in all, the child is with us, Emmanuel has come. GOD is with us. We are not alone.
In this world full of fighting and strife, and sorrow, may we practice peace and bring comfort. Peace on Earth. Joy in our gathering. Love and comfort in our homes. For God is with us.
In Christmas peace,
Pastor Karla Fredericksen