As I look towards Christmas, I’m reminded that something of great significance occurred at the birth of Jesus. It was the moment when the story of redemption entered our finite human existence. That story is about the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, in order to overcome our broken relationship with God, and so there is much for people to celebrate at this time of the year.
However, this year, I find that my mind is focusing on death rather than the joys of the season because, as Christmas approaches, so does the anniversary of my father’s death that occurred last year, exactly a week before Christmas. And so, for me, this Christmas comes with a real mix of emotions and I find it interesting that this is the first year we are doing A Blue Christmas.
A Blue Christmas is a service where we acknowledge that, while Christmas is a time of celebration as the Savior of our world was born, and a time to be with family and friends, for some of us, the reality of the broken world we live in means that these times are not so simple. There may have been a family breakdown, or a history of trouble around Christmas time and with all of this going on it is important to know that all feelings are ok. We must live and acknowledge that while the redemption is a reality, there is a reason why redemption is still needed. And some of us – a lot of us, even if it doesn’t look like it, live with some level of sadness as Christmas approaches and it is important to accept that. Sadness and joy can coexist but it is hard for this to happen if we are trying to run away from the sadness, or pretend it isn’t there.
For me as I head into this Christmas period, I’m living with that reality. I had been searching for something in my phone when I came across my father’s SMS messages to me. At first, I really didn’t want to read through them. However, I did, and as I read them there was the sadness of loss and grief, but also a feeling of love as I read his messages of care. My Dad was far from perfect, as alcohol and a deep self-rejection set the stage for most of his life and ultimately killed him, but I’m reminded of the good within that; the joy and the sadness.
Hopefully, this Christmas, you will be drawn closer to Jesus, to see the redemptive story that comes with whatever sadness you carry. I would encourage you to bring this before God in prayer, in a journal, and through fellowship with others – over coffee, or in whatever way that helps you to connect.
I pray that you find joy this Christmas.