Glad Tidings & Great Sorrow

Beloved in Christ,

Christmas is upon us, somehow! I don’t know about you but it feels like September was just last week and now here we are ready to hear the angel’s glad tidings: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:10-11).

“Good tidings of great joy.” That’s what Christmas is: a joyous announcement, for all people. Nevertheless, Christian joy is not cheap joy. It is hard won in the Passion of our Lord. Indeed, Christians have long heard echos of Christ’s Passion in his nativity: the wood of the manger becomes the wood of the cross; the cave in which he is born becomes the cave in which his lifeless body is laid; the swaddling clothes become his burial linens. Here’s the point: Christian joy is not scar free. No, it is rather a joy that has come through suffering and even death with our Lord.

That’s important to remember because for all of the lights, presents, sweets, and carols Christmas can be and often is a difficult time for many. A time not only of joy but of grief and sorrow as well. I’m thinking of a young priest I know who just last week tragically lost both of her parents in an accident. In the aftermath she reflected: “Grief is love with nowhere to go.”

As we prepare our hearts to welcome the Saviour of the world with great joy let us remember that he has come to a world that is broken, in which sin and death continue to rage, in which love sometimes has nowhere to go. And let us pray especially for those we know and love for whom Christmas brings a mixture of both joy and sorrow:

O Heavenly Father, whose Blessed Son Jesus Christ did weep at the grave of Lazarus, his friend: Look, we beseech thee, with compassion upon those who are now in sorrow and affliction; comfort them, O Lord, with thy gracious consolations; make them to know that all things work together for good to them that love thee; and grant them evermore sure trust and confidence in thy fatherly care; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God bless you church. I look forward to seeing some of you at our outdoor carol-sing at St John’s at 6:00pm tomorrow (Friday, December 18). For our full Christmas schedule see HERE.

Yours in Christ,

JRT+

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