Hi everyone, Rob here.
Tomorrow our church is holding a ‘Blue Christmas’ service. It’s a time for those who are holding grief in their hearts at Christmas to lay that before Jesus, free from tinsel, canned Christmas music and naively cheerful movies about Santa. It’s particularly appropriate for me this Christmas with Mum’s passing just 3 short weeks ago. While acknowledging the presence of grief at Christmas we also want to avoid the mistake of forgetting about the presence of joy. In my heart this season I am holding both grief and joy together, letting them converse and mix together.
Joy is what wells up in my heart when I give myself time to reflect on the Christmas story. In particular, I have taken refuge in ‘Emmanuel, God with us.’ This is where grief and joy can come together and find meaning. Ponder these verses and let them soak into your heart.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. – John 1:14
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity… – Hebrews 2:14
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. – Philippians 2:7
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. – Luke 2:10-12
This Christmas I rejoice in the humanity of Jesus. I take refuge in the One who has known grief and pain; hunger and thirst; betrayal and death. I give myself over to the One who loved us so much that he was willing to live our life, die our death and win our victory. I give my grief to the One who conquered death and holds eternity in his hands yet still wept at his friend’s grave. I choose to receive his joy, his love and his life. John 15:9-11 says this:
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
This Christmas I choose to not let grief steal my joy. For you it may be relationship issues, a work problem, financial strain or family tension. Because Jesus is fully human we can give him our human problems. He understands, he knows and he asks us to give it all over to him and remain in his love. This is the hard bit. Grief and pain tempt us to pull away from love. It tempts us to hide from those who reach out to us with tenderness and care. We do it with a brave face or simply withdrawing. We fear our tears and our tender hearts. But here’s the deal; we won’t know the joy of Jesus unless we remain in the love of Jesus, and he administers that love through his body.
So if this Christmas is ‘blue’ for you take refuge in the humanity of Jesus. Give him your grief and your pain. Allow yourself to be loved and give yourself permission to be vulnerable. Receive his joy and his life and may grace and peace be yours. See you in 2016 and have a blessed Christmas and a joyful New Year.