Christmas Cards and Sympathy Cards Side by Side.

This morning I arranged the display of cards on my hall table. It is a mix of, “Merry Christmas,” and “Sorry For Your Loss.”

The contrast is striking to me. The most joyful time of the year is punctuated with grief over the loss of my Mother in Law to Covid-19. I can not help but pause and contemplate the message of the cards sitting side by side.

In the beginning God saw all that He had made and declared that it was, “Very Good.”

When we look through the lens of gratitude we still see much of that world. I appreciate beauty in nature, the love of family and friends, the pleasures in life of delicious food, soft blankets, beautiful music and so much more. And yet in 2020 I admit that maintaining this mindset has required very intentional thinking, honestly it has been a battle. More then ever we feel the effects of our broken, sin filled world.

The pandemic of Covid-19 has led to great loss, isolation, and fear.

Mental illness is at an all time high. We are faced with layoffs, business’ closing, and shutdowns. In 2020 we have witnessed rioting, looting and tension in our city streets like we have not witnessed before in our lifetimes. Political views are polarizing and corruption seems to be unchecked. Media can no longer be trusted for accurate information and friends turn on each other over heated debates on social platforms. Darkness and evil seem to have the upper hand.

In the midst of all of this we celebrate Christmas.

Emanuel, God with us. We remember the arrival of Jesus when His light pierced through the darkness and the heavens opened up and angels sang, “Glory to God in the Highest!” With the arrival of Jesus, our Savior, our HOPE is renewed.

Over the years I have read the stories of Jesus countless times.

As a child I listened to the stories of Jesus healing and doing miracles and I thought that the healing was the point of His ministry. However, as an adult one thing that I had a difficult time reconciling is why Jesus would sometimes heal someone and then He would say, “Don’t tell anyone.” I didn’t fully understand why until I read all of his life story and realized that He came with a message so much bigger than the temporary healing of physical bodies. He came to pay the price of sins for all of humanity so that we could be right with God and live life forgiven and with the hope of ETERNITY where forever all things are healed and whole and perfect.

I believe that it was the character of Jesus that moved Him to do miracles.

I think that it was difficult for Him to be in the middle of the messed up world and not want to fix it. I think His compassion was so strong that He had to help and relieve pain.

This December when my Mother in law became sick with Covid I believe God in His compassion looked down on her sweet soul and said, “ENOUGH.”

Jackie was a beautiful soul, she showed kindness, gentleness and generosity to every person she met. Only those of us on the inner circle of her life know that she dealt with migraines, anxiety and chronic pain. She loved Jesus and taught her boys to love Him too. They are both leading their families with great faith. She was faithful in her marriage of almost 50 years. I know God told her, “Well Done.”

So while we are here we grieve because a beloved saint has passed on.

But because of Christmas over 2,000 years ago, we grieve with HOPE. The Christmas carol that resonates with me most this year says:

“A thrill of hope, the WEARY world REJOICES for yonder breaks a NEW and GLORIOUS morn. Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices, OH NIGHT DIVINE, oh night when CHRIST was born.”

As we come to this week of Christmas a place at our table is empty and our hearts hurt in the deepest of places.

We are in fact WEARY, but we remember JESUS who came here to earth and died in our place so that we could one day join Him in heaven. Because of this we have PEACE here on earth.

GRIEF AND JOY SIDE BY SIDE. CHRISTMAS CARDS NEXT TO SYMPATHY CARDS. BECAUSE OF JESUS- WE GRIEVE WITH HOPE.

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