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Who Is the Christmas Jesus?December 4, 2023
The song goes, “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight.” The story could have been a lot shorter if it just ended with “Then Rudolph told Santa and the other reindeer that you can’t emotionally abuse someone for years and then ask them to do you a favor. The end.” No one would have faulted Rudolph for that because suffering hurts and can keep us from becoming who we can become.
During the Christmas season, suffering seems to hurt even more because we think we should be happy, and we are not. If the year has included pain, illness and especially the loss of a loved one, our suffering can be more intense. Yet the Bible makes it clear that suffering is part of our faith journey. “Take up your cross and follow me,” Jesus said (Mark 8:34). We are commanded to “rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13). How can this be? Suffering can knock us to our knees. On the other hand, this is a good place of humility to pray from, e.g. our knees.
The key thing to remember is that we aren’t instantly strong and shouldn’t feel the pain of the loss just because we believe in Jesus. Quite the opposite. It is in the pain of loss and struggle with grief that makes it possible to meet the Christmas Jesus for the first time.
The Christmas Jesus is not the little sweet innocent child who we remember when our Christmas is blessed by little sweet innocent children or grandchildren. Those are special Christmases. But then life becomes very complicated and that’s when we can meet the Jesus who struggled with His siblings, experienced the death of His earthly father and did amazing healing miracles as He encountered pain, suffering and death all around Him. The real Christmas Jesus is the one who grew up to turn over tables of people taking advantage of the poor, who challenged those in power and suffered silently on His cross to die for the sins of the world and win our eternal salvation.
If you want to meet this Christmas Jesus start on your knees in prayer, literally on your knees, if you are physically able. You don’t even have to know what to pray. Play some Christmas music softly, and ask Jesus to minister to you, then be still and quiet and see what happens. Prayer is hard when you are grieving. Do your best to pray anyway.
Do not be afraid to express your grief to people you trust. Ask someone to be that person that you can talk to and who doesn’t think it should be over in a certain time frame. Grief has no timetable, so be patient with yourself. Grief is complex, and deadlines cannot be set.
If you know someone who is struggling with grief, decide to be a good listener. People want to talk about their loss. Encourage them. Do little talking yourself; just a thoughtful word or two will be a blessing. I have seen many people find healing simply because a friend listened to them tell their stories of grief over and over again. Each time it gets easier, and they heal a little bit more. Questions about how their faith has helped them can be so helpful in bringing Christmas Jesus into their lives.
Don’t be afraid of tears, yours or your friends. In John 11:35 it says, “Jesus wept.” This is the shortest verse in the Bible, and also one of the most moving, as we see the human side of Jesus as he is moved by Mary and Martha’s grief at their Brother Lazarus’ death. Tears can facilitate the healing of one’s body and life. Remember, “The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.”
Finally, do what feels right to you, and as you become aware of your needs, tell family members and friends about those needs. If some of the above suggestions may sound like just what you need. Don’t sit around wishing someone could read your mind; ask someone to help you through the holiday season.
Do you know a grieving friend that needs someone to listen? What can you do to help them through the holidays? Have you lost a loved one? Do you have a friend, a minister, or teacher that will help you deal with your grief? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let us always remember that our faith proclaims the sure hope of the resurrection. Our hope in this promise of God was revealed by Christmas Jesus who was raised from the dead, and reigns in power for us this day and forever more. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.org).