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Glad Tidings and Great Mourning

A daughter of a friend of mine passed away this month. Since then I have been acutely aware of those who are mourning this season. People I normally don’t think of much have been coming to mind---my sister’s friend who lost her husband, my friend Kari for whom this will be her first Christmas without her mom. Last year I met my sister’s friend on Christmas Eve and now he is dead--leaving behind a wife my age and a small son. 

Kizzy is getting through Christmas without her husband and another friend too because of a divorce.  Others are mourning job losses and being far from home.  And now today, millions of students mourn the defeat of the Dream Act--a law that would make a way for people raised in the United States to earn their legal residency by going to college or serving in the military. After ten years of work, advocacy, and the bill passing the House of Representatives, we missed the vote by five votes. I feel disappointed and sad.  I feel my friends’ grief and loneliness.

It is awful to be surrounded by rejoicing and parties and festivity when you are grieving and mourning.  I have wondered how my friends could possibly relate to the Christmas season this year. Yet, it was in the Christmas Story itself that I found words of mourning, and so somehow of comfort. Matthew’s gospel recounts the Escape to Egypt when Jesus parents fled to another country. As they left, Herod was leaving a wake of destruction and death. Matthew quotes the prophet Jeremiah to describe the scene:

                A voice is heard in Ramah,

                Weeping and great mourning,

                Rachel weeping for her children

                And refusing to be comforted

                Because they are no more. 

--Matthew 2:18

For some reason this passage gives me great comfort this year. Despite the stars and angels and the humble shepherds and lavish kings; amidst glad tidings and great joy, mothers were devastated and weeping. As the Prince of Peace entered Earth, these families were experiencing the injustice and death he came to overthrow. This year amidst dinner parties and treats and lights and travel there are people whose “voices are heard weeping and great mourning”.

As we tell The Christmas Story may we remember that they are part of the story.  In my mourning this year, in your grieve this season, there is a place for us in the story of Christmas. Jesus came to a world in deep sorrow, refusing to be comforted. As I wait for Him this year, I see again how much we need a Savior, a Redeemer who will wipe all our tears. May He come to us as He did in that day--gently and with great power to heal and resurrect.

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I love our world- the sights, noises, and flavors of it all. I've found the best way for me to make a difference globally is to be rooted and engaged in my community. Every day is 1 more adventure in loving God and loving my neighbor.