Friday, December 23, 2005

"Blessed Are Those Who Mourn...

...for they shall be comforted."

This Christmas it feels like we've been bombarded with a litany of pain and loss, from friends' serious illnesses, to friends and acquaintences losing unborn and new-born babies, to news this morning that a member of my parents' church was killed in a car crash yesterday...

Christmas seems to magnify what is unspeakable heart-ache at any time of year. But the heart of Christmas is not escapism from pain, but the decision to identify with the pain of others. That is what the Son of God did in becoming, also, the Son of Man - a baby born, to live as us, and wage war on our behalf against sin and sickness and sorrow...

And if Jesus chose to identify with the pain of others, as well as to experience pain himself, then those of us who choose to follow him also need to identify with the pain of others - regardless of whether or not we are naturally pastoral. We need to stand with those who hurt. And while I know that there is a heart-healing work that God alone, directly, can do on earth; and a heart-healing that awaits us in heaven; I also suspect that when Jesus proclaimed that those who mourn shall be comforted, he had in mind that his followers would play a part in that comforting.

That isn't easy. There's the delicate, often awkward, balance to be found between words and silence, prescence and giving space, practical help and prayer...But we need to recognise that hurt is as rightfully a part of Christmas as happiness. There's a good resource for doing that collectively over at Steve Taylor's blog, here. Perhaps taking the time for this should become as familiar a part of our Christmas services as carols around the crib.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:39 pm

    this is the 2nd year we've done it, and it looks like becoming an annual part of our life. we feel it adds so much to our missional understanding of the gospel. i invite all those i have dealt with through funerals and it gives me another way of interleaving with their lives.