Monday, February 1, 2016

Blue Christmas

John 1:1-5, 10-14, Blue Christmas C, December 22, 2015

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

On December 12th, my mother's father passed away. We knew that he was in his last moments as we traveled to the Christmas party for my father's side of the family. My mother had posted on the Facebook event for this party to let everyone know that her father might die. 

So when we arrived, we were surrounded by hugs and love. Some had read the post, others hadn't. Then, halfway through the party, my mother received the phone call. She pulled my sister and me into an empty room as she heard the news from her brother. From then on, our experience of the party changed. When we reentered the party, we sat back down to our abandoned plates of food. Many people simply walked up to my mother and gave her a hug. 

No words needed to be said as the tears flowed. So, from then on, about half of my family knew that my mother's father had passed away while we ate. Others didn't have a clue. My mother oscillated between tears and laughter. We truly enjoyed the rest of the party, even as we began to wonder what her family's Christmas party would look like. 

Isn't this how so many of our Christmas celebrations will be this year? If we are brave enough to join our families, we will oscillate between tears and laughter. We will confide in those who know our struggles, and we will put on a fake smile for those who don't. We will remember and tell stories, and we will create new traditions without our lost loved ones.

All of us are grieving something. Most of us are grieving for people who have died. Others of us are grieving for broken relationships and hard life changes. We are grieving for our living loved ones who are struggling with illness even as we grieve for our deceased loved ones who lost the battle. 

For some of us, our lives are a little easier now, no matter how hard that is to admit. Even though caregivers would gladly take on all of that work to have that one alive again, they also can breathe a sigh of relief that they need not worry about wheelchairs and medications. Our sick loved ones were never a burden, yet they did take a lot of our time.

For others of us, our lives are a bit more complicated now. We struggle to find a way forward without them. We also need to deal with all of the paperwork and phone calls involved in closing an estate. All of our lives are different this year.

For those of us who have lost a loved one, we know that they are at peace. At the same time, we search for living peace. So, this evening, we turn to the One who provides that peace. We turn to the One who is love embodied. We turn to the One who is the Word.

As we honor Christ coming to us in the flesh, I can’t help but wonder, why? Why would our Lord choose to come live among us? Our Lord who created the entire world and all living things. Our Lord who can make promises lasting generations. Our Lord who is constantly surrounded by angels praising Him. Our Lord who can make barren women pregnant. 

Our Lord who can change the world from the safe distance of heaven. So, why would the Lord then choose to come down to earth in the flesh? Knowing how messy our lives are, why would the Lord want to get messy with us? Why would our Lord want to put on flesh and blood and experience all of the limitations that come with that? Why would our Lord then be willing to die for us? 

I think this is the beautiful reality of the incarnation. Jesus, being fully God, had all of the power of God to perform miracles and teach us the truth. Yet Jesus left the safety of heaven to put on the flesh and blood of a child. Jesus experienced the messiness of life, from a newborn through to an adult. Jesus experienced all of our sadness, our anger, and our anxiety. Jesus cried when Lazarus died. Jesus threw over the money changers’ tables. Jesus worried for his mother. 

Yet Jesus also experienced all of our hope, our joy, and our love. Jesus pulled little children onto his lap to talk to them. Jesus shared meals with his closest friends. Jesus cared deeply for his family. Jesus, in all his fleshiness, experienced life. The best and the worst of earthly life was his to feel in his thirty three short years. 

So, before the Lord gave us life eternal, He experienced life on this earth. Throughout the centuries, the Lord continued to make promises to the Israelite people and to the entire world. All of those promises were then fulfilled in Jesus Christ. 

Everything was fulfilled in Jesus who is the Word made flesh. In Jesus who is life eternal. In Jesus who is the light of the world. Even despite all of the darkness in our lives, Jesus’ light never ceases to shine. For those of us who are grieving loved ones, Jesus wipes our tears away. For those of us who are grieving broken relationships, Jesus provides us with new relationships. For those of us who are anxious about the future, Jesus continues to shine a ray of hope. 

This Christmas season, no matter what you are facing in your lives, I pray that you find time to find Christ’s love in your heart and in the hearts of those you encounter. Amen.

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