When Christmas reminds us of a lost one

Many of us really enjoy Christmas. There are parties, and a few days off work. We stuff ourselves with good food (and drink!) and take time to catch up with friends and family we don't get to see often. But for some, it's a peculiarly painful time. For those who've lost loved ones, especially at this time of year, the memories can seem even more bitter and sorrowful when it seems like everyone else is having fun with their nearest and dearest. I lost my own father on 22nd December two years ago, and I know Christmas will never be quite the simple pleasure it was before. But truthfully, being a Christian makes a big difference to my perspective on the horrible loss. Let me explain.

It reassures me that I know and love God (the only one) who has himself suffered separation and loss and the anguish of a deathly goodbye. That was the cost to God of sending his treasured son, Jesus, into this world to die. And Jesus, who was in very nature God, wept at the grave of a friend (even knowing he would shortly raise that friend from death).

Jesus, too, lost his earthly father, who died before Jesus was thirty. He’s been there.

We aren't made for our relationships and love to end but to go on growing deeper and sweeter for ever. But Jesus promises resurrection. It’s not meant to mask that rightful sorrow. In fact, it strengthens us to really face it, and feel it, without being overcome. But the promise is real.

When Christians I love are taken from me, it's just a little like a father taking a half-broken bicycle away for a week to repair it. God takes them, but only to give them back to me at the resurrection whole, and new, and perfect. I am without them for a time, in order that I might one day be more truly and for ever with them than I can even imagine. Jesus changes everything.

Because of Christmas – God in Jesus coming to be with us – we have, and can offer to anyone, a love and a hope that can never be taken away.

If you're sad and hurting this Christmas season, please don't be alone. Come and find us, or call us, or email. We'd love to meet you, get to know you, hear your story, and share our life together with you. You may find hope, and even joy.

13 December 2018