John 14:27 – Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such as the world cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears. (NEB)
For the first time in twenty years, I visited the town where I grew up. A great deal had changed. However, en route to the banquet I was attending, I passed the block where three funeral parlours still stand. Memories came flooding back of the first and only time I attended a funeral for a non-believer. Feelings of darkness and finality had overwhelmed me that day. There had been no songs of praise to our God, no reading of the Word, and no prayers of thanksgiving for God's gift of the life of the deceased. There had been no words of comfort to strengthen our faith through the love of Jesus Christ. There was no message of hope and no sense of peace. All the gifts that Jesus Christ brought into the world that first Christmas were absent.
During Advent, many of us are sad due to the loss of a loved one, the loss of a happier time that will never be again. Being a Christian does not mean we are immune to being sad. For me, the season of Advent always brings with it the memories of my husband's illness and his subsequent death three days after Christmas a few years ago. While I was grieving, the finality of my loss overwhelmed me. I was unable to find any feelings of joy in the Advent season. However, with the passage of time and the subsiding of my grief, I have been able to accept that my loved one's appointed time had come. I have been comforted through knowing that he is no longer suffering, and I have been able to "set my troubled heart at rest".
When feelings of darkness and finality surround us during the holidays due to the loss of a loved one, we can find the love of Jesus Christ through reading His words, and through these words, Jesus gives us the gift of peace that only He can give.
Prayer: We praise You, Father, for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ, and we thank You for showing us that when we know Him we find the gifts of peace, comfort, hope, and joy that He brought into our world that very first Christmas eve. In His holy name, we pray. Amen.