But it can be a most difficult time, especially for those who have lost a loved one this year. In many ways, the entire nation feels that way after the Newtown tragedy.
As we prepare the hearth this Christmas, our hearts are with all those who are suffering today.
Yet, even as such losses and tragedies and other hardships present us with life’s most trying times – and those on the fringes of the loss or tragedy fumble to try to offer meaningful consoling and often don’t quite know how, our God can provide hope and comfort that we neighbors and friends and countrymen cannot.
We throw the word “forever” around so much, often in love songs. And the heart soars to hear of earthly bonds that do seem to transcend this life. But human relationships in this physical world pale in comparison to our relationship with the Divine. Human love is but an echo of the incomprehensible love of God. You want a lasting relationship? That one really is forever.
The story of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate this season, is the most dramatic reminder possible that all real hope and comfort rest in our relationship with God.
Heaven has granted us unbelievable power to sustain life to each other, through incredible health care and doting health-care professionals and first responders and law enforcers – many of whom must work this holiday to care for and protect others. We’ve also been given the power to share life-giving blood with each other. If only we could give comfort the way we transfuse blood!
They and all other care-givers are, of course, surrogates. The ultimate comfort rains down from heaven and its tender mercies.
“To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,” Luke 1:77-79 tells us.
“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us.
“To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
This is more than a Christmas wish; it’s the promise of Christmas. It’s a covenant.
May that covenant be a life-affirming comfort today for the people of Newtown and for all of us who need consolation and hope.