Grief at Christmas: A Christian Perspective

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Grief at Christmas: A Christian Perspective
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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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“For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4.6

This quote from the Bible is a favourite of the theoretical physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne,
because it pulls together the scientific notion of the light of knowledge shining on us with the notion of the light of Christ shining on us.

It takes a great deal of faith, as days grow shorter and nights grow longer, as a year ends in which we have experienced loss and another begins, in that time between, to proclaim the presence and reign of God.

It takes a great deal of hope to be able to be honest about our situation.

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.

We have hope because we experience a continuing relationship with the person we have lost: a relationship that grows and changes as we go on; a relationship that is never broken. Most everybody experiences that continuing bond.

But we have another reason for hope, a reason unique to our faith. We believe that we will be reunited with our loved ones, that they are not lost to us forever — because we have been shown the way through death by Jesus. Jesus has shown us how to move through suffering and death – has gone before us, to prepare the way for us.

And perhaps the most important reason we have for hope is God’s own grief. God grieved for Jesus, just as we grieve for those we watch suffer and die. God grieved. God wept. But God carried on loving the world that killed him, kept on working in people’s lives, and kept Jesus alive in the world to remind us we are a forgiven, hopeful people.


We have Jesus; we have resurrection; we have forgiveness and redemption; we have God’s presence with us.

So this Advent, do not be afraid. Your God reigns. Our God comes to us, Emmanuel, God with us.

Therefore we have hope. We are not alone.

Albert Schweitzer wrote, “Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”

I pray that you will notice those who seek to rekindle your light. And those who rekindle your light without even knowing they have.

God is seeking to shine on us. Let light shine out of darkness.



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