Across the Pastor’s Desk: Merry Christmas in joy or pain
Published 8:00 pm Friday, December 23, 2022
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Charles Teixeira
Not every Christmas is white.
In fact, for some of us, few Christmases are. Of course, I’m not talking about the piles of snow outside. From a precipitation perspective, it all looks like we’re going to have a very white Christmas here in Albert Lea! But some of us are also all too familiar with blue Christmases.
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Blue Christmases are the reality for those who grieve during the holidays. Grief is woven into the joy of the season of celebration. The most jovial moments can sometimes feel defeated by tears or painful memories. We can easily focus on what was or what will never be again even in the presence of such beauty and frivolity. For those of us who grieve, this interchange of joy and sadness can be isolating, confusing or even despairing.
And, lest we forget, grief can come in many forms. This past year, so many of us have lost spouses, children, friends, jobs, dreams, homes, financial stability, relationships, peace, health, physical or mental abilities — and the list goes on.
With such grief, especially in the face of such “merry and bright” times, how can we acknowledge our sincere desire for joy but, still, our persistent grief?
As a follower of Jesus, Christmas isn’t a blind or hollow celebration. Christmas is actually a perfect response to the complicated brokenness of times like this.
Christ-followers celebrate Christmas because we see it as a time when God, in his great love for us, would not abandon us to our broken world. We rejoice that God came as a fully human, fully divine person named Jesus. In his humanity, we know we will never have to endure any pain God himself would not shoulder alongside us. In his divinity, we trust his goodness — that the broken world he entered into once will not be complete until he comes again to finish his redeeming work.
The good news of Christmas is not that grief has to be put aside in order to truly celebrate the coming of Jesus. God-with-us in Jesus means that we are not alone in our suffering — ever. It’s not in God’s nature to keep his distance. He wants to be near, to be known.
So, even with the pain of loss, we wait. We wait for Christ to come again to finish the work he began. We can grieve knowing, all the while, our tears are only temporary and that we don’t shed them alone. God-with-us means God-with-us-in-joy and God-with-us-in-pain.
And, because of that, I say, “Merry Christmas” to all of you, in your joy or your pain or the complex combination of both.
Merry Christmas, Albert Lea!
Charles Teixeira is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Albert Lea.