Grieving at Christmas

A Christian Perspective

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Grieving at Christmas
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About the Author

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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It takes a great deal of faith, as nights grow longer, as grief overwhelms us, to proclaim the presence and reign of God.

We can be honest about the darkness, about the defeat, about the grief of loss, because we have an honest hope.  We can admit that we need some future not solely of our own devising.  We can be honest and tell the truth about our condition because we believe that God has made our situation God’s own.  We believe in a God who yearns to be near us, to come to us, to save us.

Jesus told the disciples about how God would separate the sheep and the goats in heaven by how they had treated their fellows on earth, and the ones that had cared for the suffering were God’s kind of people. Jesus is in the suffering of the world. “When I was hungry, you gave me food; thirsty, you gave me clean water; a stranger, you welcomed me; a prisoner, you visited me.” With these words, Jesus challenges us to respond to the universal suffering of the world.

You matter to God.

Today we remember that Jesus is in our suffering. Jesus is in our grieving. Jesus did not just teach us to care for others; he taught us to care for others the way we ourselves would want to be cared for.  It’s not just what we do for others; we matter for who we are and what we feel. Jesus promises that God does care and God will be known in the midst of the darkness.

“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”

Those who grieve know what it is like to live in darkness.

It is in the darkness, Jesus promises, that “they will see the Son of Humanity coming in clouds with great power and glory.  Then he will send out the angels, and gather his own from the four winds, … from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”John 1.1-9

The season of Advent is about moving from darkness to light, from despair to hope. When life is difficult, like leaning into a fierce wind, it is with faith that we are able to lean into the struggle.  And in advent as we lean into the struggle, with faith, we begin to see the light.  We see the fragile light which dawns among us in Christ.

We take a candle into a room to dispel the darkness. Likewise, the Light of Jesus Christ comes into the darkened room of our grieving hearts — like a small candle.

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