Philippians 4:4 – And the peace of God, which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
There are some homes where the Christmas lights aren't shining as brightly as they did last year. Sorrow and loss affects us all; however the first Christmas with the loss of a loved one is something you almost have to experience to understand.
The season is so overwhelming, you can't get away from it. Every Christmas carol playing in the department store, every store window, is just one more reminder of a loss rubbed raw. Many churches or communities hold "Blue Christmas" celebrations. It's a chance for people who've suffered some kind of loss to band together at this time of year. If this is the season for presents, some of you might be asking, "Will someone give me something for the pain I'm feeling?" I'd like to try, if you'll let me.
If you wish, travel in your imagination with me. Across time and space to the manger where our Lord lays, "the seeming Infant of a day." There's a fire here, for warmth. While this isn't wintry Winnipeg, Manitoba, it is still winter, and a chill for these people. The beasts, spoken of in so many songs, gather round, the firelight gleaming in every eye.
"Where is the hope I need to try to get on with life?" you ask. I think it's here. Look at the shadows on the wall there. It could be just my imagination or a trick of the firelight, but you could swear there was the shadow of a cross on the wall. Where would that come from? Might be from the very heart of God. Our creeds and our confessions declare that the reason Jesus Christ came to earth was to go to the cross. For this is the very source of our hope: in His dying and resurrection, Jesus defeated death and every enemy. The Cross is the sign of hope for all humanity.
There is more here than that. Jesus said that, after he left, the Holy Spirit would come. One of the Greek Bible words for the Holy Spirit is "parakletos". It's made up of two Greek words that mean "to call someone beside you". It's as if the Holy Spirit is a friend who has come to your side and is walking with you, helping you and supporting you in these days. When Paul was in prison, in chains and facing death, his hope was Christ. The Spirit's hope and comfort could so console him, that he could write, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)
There is hope and strength for you, that you'll get through these days. And hope for brighter tomorrows. I can't turn back time for you, or give you back your lost loved one, but I can assure you your sorrow is high on the heart of Jesus.
Prayer: May those who mourn and those for whom this season brings painful memories find hope and comfort in the Everlasting Arms. Amen.