Comfort and Joy
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ, our Saviour,
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.
– 16th Century Carol
Lights, bells, trees, wreaths, carols, gifts, cookies, snowmen. Everything about this season screams JOY! Why, then, does the ancient carol proclaim both comfort and joy? Because while this season is indeed filled with much joy, for many this season is also infused with significant grief: painful memories, unresolved conflict, an empty chair at the table. The holidays have the power to magnify both our joy and our sorrow.
Our culture doesn’t allow much room for sorrow in the holiday season, but the Kingdom of God does. The God who entered our world in a manger is the One who promises to dwell with us in our sorrows. Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted, and Advent is the season in which we watch and wait for the dawning light of Christ’s love and healing to rise on us and in us.
If you are struggling with feelings of grief, anxiety or depression this season I want you to know that you are not alone. Others are struggling beneath their holiday smiles too. Your brothers and sisters in Christ want to walk with you. More importantly God is with you. That’s the good news of Christmas – Emmanuel, God with us.
The old carol reminds us that Christmas has something to say to both our joy and sorrow. Take a moment to watch this version of “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen”. Let the words speak to you.
And if you are grieving this holiday season I want to invite you to our annual Service of Remembrance held on Saturday December 19 at 7:00 pm in our sanctuary. It’s a service that honors our grief and speaks a word of comfort into our lives. For more information, including how you can submit the name of a loved one who has died to be included in our prayers, click here.
I pray that this Advent is filled with much comfort and joy for you.
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN