A Gift of Sympathy

Hope for the holidays

This time of year is rich with blessing.  Eye candy abounds with twinkle lights and beautiful décor.  Pastries and delicacies fancy the taste buds.  People often seem more charitable, more giving, save for the last-minute shoppers who are nonsensical about their goal.  Even those of us who only revel in the snow until January 2nd are taken with the beauty of the winter landscape.  For Jews, Hanukkah represents a family and people solidarity, the providence of a miraculous God.  And then for the Christian, the season is a deepening time of reflection.  Time devoted specifically to the wonder and awe of our Saviour’s preparation and birth. 

 The beginning of the end of our bondage to sin and eternal death. 

Yes, these are wondrous moments.  But, for some, they are laced with the absence of someone.  For some, a seat once filled and warm, sits empty and void of the loved one who used to occupy it.  Those of us who have much to ponder, things to do, people to see, we  often overlook the sense of loss and sadness that courts our acquaintances.  Military families, death of loved ones, and strained relationships tint the color of the holidays with a sense of grief and loss.

While we sip hot cocoa, soldiers lay entrenched in battle.  We go to our houses of worship, when they reflect on how much they miss home.  They endure, so we can celebrate freely.  I have moments where I am in awe with how much these families sacrifice in the name of freedom and country.  As a Midwesterner, not seeing the snowy landscape would somehow lessen the magic of the season for me, but troops trade the same fond memories of powdery snow for sand and desert.  I remember a soldier who had recently returned home from a tour of duty in the Middle East tell of the culture shock of returning back to the States.  What he had missed most, other than his family, was green grass

 The landscape of home

 When we see yellow ribbons tied to trees that adorn homes let us say a prayer.

 The holidays are a time of family and togetherness, but that time somehow won’t be quite the same in many homes.  The loss of a loved one, whether within the year or many ago, can bring reminisce of sadness.  My own extended family has had two such deaths.  This Christmas will not be the same.  These losses bring fresh remembrance of others who have passed before.  We take comfort in the brevity of such absence, knowing that our loved ones who have gone before, if they have known Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, will be reunited with them someday, soon.  Still, life continues, and must, but we will miss the ones who celebrated with us, who made the family time special. 

For family who have lost dear members this year, or in years past,  let us say a prayer.

Though these losses are difficult and sad, they hold the prospect of warm memories and future reunion.  But, there are some breaks in fellowship that don’t have that hope, relationships that have been strained, due to disagreement, divorce, or unwillingness to forgive or ask for forgiveness.  Sparring between family members can easily cause the loss to be felt by all.  Disputes, lack of communication, and such arguments tinge the holidays with regret, hurt, and loss.  Not dealing with issues breaches the bond or allows the chasm to continue spreading. 

Without necessary healing, the pain continues, icy and piercing.

For families, including my own, who feel pain and loss with disputes,  let us say a prayer.

This year, having small children I rejoice in the fun and excitement.  There is such great joy in seeing my kids delight in the beauty of the festivities.  I cling to my faith and the joy of my salvation in the wonder in the birth of Jesus Christ, two thousand years ago.  This event was the pivotal point in history that could give hope in spite of the losses that so many of us face.  We continue to live life, with its difficulties and hardships, but we mustn’t forget to reach out to those around us who are missing someone. 

To remember a friend’s grief in the separation of military service, death, or broken relationships is to give a gift that is priceless. 

In the midst of the radiance of holiday, don’t forget the tears that fall during this time.

Say a prayer, send a note, call just to bless someone and let them know you have remembered their loss and hurt in this time.  This only adds to the beauty of the season and fulfills one of the reasons Christ came to earth.  When asked what the greatest commandment was, He responded,

’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

 From my heart to yours, Merry Christmas….

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