In the first of this advent's blogs I mentioned some situations of pain and hurt that we see all around us. Unfortunately this 'theme' of pain and loss has not diminished during the week as my beloved Grandpa died on Monday, along with a dear friends mother yesterday, and also the close friend of some of our church family who died on Sunday night.
I am incredibly lucky in that I have rarely had to face death at a personal level: until Monday I still had three out of four grandparents, both parents, and my brothers and I have always been fit and healthy. But dealing with a death in the family, however merciful that death might seem, and continuing to witness close friends and people in the community being impacted by similar losses, has only served to reiterate (in my thinking at least) the point I tried to make last weekend.
I have always struggled a little with the prevailing 'feel-good-factor' type of vibe that surrounds Christmas; not because I don't think that Christmas is something worth celebrating (it is!), but because of the fact that for many people it is a time of loss or hardship which can so easily be forgotten by the majority of us as we feast, party and make merry.
And so as our family, along with many others, deal with our own situation of loss this week, I am glad that it is to the Bethlehem Baby that we can once again look. And not only because of the promise that He will return, make all things right, and bring an end to death; but because in His life on earth Jesus' experienced the pain of loss and demonstrates to us that the pain it brings is a pain that He too has experienced.
It is my prayer that for all who experience or remember loss throughout this advent and Christmas time, that they would know not only the future hope we have in Jesus, but the present support we have from The One who has experienced exactly what we're going through.
Lord Jesus. We thank you that at Christmas we celebrate your coming into human time and space as a baby born in Bethlehem. We thank you that you are coming again and will make everything right. We also remember the tears you shed at the loss of your friend, Lazarus, and pray that as we weep for our loved ones that we would know the comfort of a brother who has been through what we are experiencing and carried what we cannot carry alone. May we always look to you, Lord. Give us renewed hope in the power of your life, death and resurrection. Amen.