Tears at Christmas

When the joy and laughter around you, makes you sad and brings you to tears;  When the Christmas carols only serve to still the voice inside you to mourning;  when the merry making and visits of friends make you feel a deep vacuum inside and all around you because something, someone is not in the picture,  What do you do then,  when the tears flow at Christmas? 

The tree is decorated, the adornments are up but the most important, precious adornments of the house are not.  The loss of your loved ones and pets is a physical pain. 

Last year, we ‘survived’ Christmas because the externals were scaled down due to Covid so there were less ‘reminders’ of family time.  This year, “Christmas” has returned, Covid or no Covid, and the traditions and the ‘joys’ of Christmas are back in almost full measure.  But the joy in your heart has been replaced by grief in almost full measure. So, what do you do when tears flow at Christmas?

There is a spiritual dilemma here, for being a Catholic, I know I should be rejoicing at the birth of the Saviour, finding joy in the traditions that have come to epitomize Christmas, and even more than that, experiencing joy in the fundamental message of Christmas – Rejoice and be glad for this day is born to you the Saviour of the World. 

It just seems so very hard to rejoice and be glad … and that has been troubling me. Where is my faith? Where is my hope? Where is my belief in the Good News?

That last question made me think.  What is the Good News?

The good news is not just Christmas trees and gifts, mistletoe and wine, logs on the fire as carolers sing.  The good news is not the stockings that Santa fills with a ‘Ho Ho Ho’ to cheer you .   Nor is it the table laden with good foods that fill you up.  All these are good and fine, but not really the “Good News” of Christmas.

The “Good News” of Christmas was the first words the Babe in the manger uttered as a grown man as he opened the temple scroll :

“  …I have come to bring the good news to the poor,

to heal the brokenhearted,

to preach deliverance to the captives,

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty them that are bruised…” Luke 4.18.

I had read this verse so many times before. I love the image of Jesus picking up the scroll in the temple in his first public appearance – but I was never broken-hearted before and the good news passed over my head. 

Today the words took on a new meaning, reminding me also of the many I know who are grieving this Christmas. A friend in the UK who held his wife in his arms struggling to give her oral resuscitation as the breath quietly left her body.  A classmate whose husband had an unexpected fatal heart attack. A friend in Australia who still grieves for the brother, husband and parents who left many years ago leaving a void she has not been able to fill.  Young parents who’s little one joined the angels in heaven a week ago after more than a year of hope and prayers that he would survive an accident.  The community grieves with them and thousands of others whose loved ones left this year – or in recent times – victims to Covid, accidents, violence, bomb blasts or just the natural cycle of life.  

Death where is thy stingDeep in my heart, I reply.  But a deeper voice inside me convicts me.  The sting of death is deep only in a heart without hope and without faith.  And without gratitude for what you had.     

So I remind myself that the pain may be there but hope and faith – and Love – will see me through. The “Good News” is that I don’t have to force myself to fill the vacuum. I can feel broken-hearted and empty. I can grieve and be bruised in my grief … knowing that there is a promise – many promises – and that I can lean on Him, the Christ Child.  I can go direct to Him whose words ring true for all time – for this is the reason he came.

Come to me all those who are weary and heavy burdened

Come to me … I will give you the answer, I will give you rest.  I will give you peace; I will set you free from all the troubles that oppress you.    

Yet you refuse to come to me to have life John 5.40

And thus this Christmas I invite all who are sad, whose tears are flowing to strive to remember that the Lord is coming.  Go out to meet Him.  He is the Prince of peace and we can find peace through our pain only if we lean on Him and let Him fill the empty void in our hearts.  

A blessed and holy Christmas to you all.

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