That’s what they say about this time of year from Thanksgiving to January 1st.Although I’d like to share with you that just because it titled “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year “ it doesn’t mean it is. Actually for more people than we will know it is the most depressing time of the year. Life doesn’t stop with bad news, tragedy or loss of any kind when the calendar turns to this time of the year. Quite the contrary, the bad news comes, tragedy hits and loss happens. For some loss has already happened and this time of the year makes it harder to bear. For those in mourning it doesn’t turn into laughter and joy just because the song is being sung. The loss of a loved one is a very real and traumatic thing that happens to us all. Whether it’s expected or unexpected it’s all trauma and it hurts. So what does one do during such a time as this when there is no joy? First of all it’s OK to cry. There is healing in tears and second don’t deny the pain and heartache you feel, for in denial one tends to withdraw within themselves. When this happens it’s much harder for one to reach out for the comfort that is so desperately needed. Lets reflect on a story in the scriptures that is a very good example. In John 11:17-45. This is the story of Martha and Mary when their brother Lazarus died. They both were very troubled and mourning his death when Jesus came back into town. In the story Jesus called forth Lazarus from the dead but that is not the part I want to talk about. It’s that place that yes they questioned where Jesus was and why he wasn’t there when their brother was dying but it’s also the part of the scripture that tells us how they in their loss and heartache allowed Jesus into that place to comfort them and help them. It’s that place that we so often close off to God and to others when we are hurting so bad that we can only see the darkness. Mourning the loss of a loved one is inevitable, we are humans living in a fallen world. It’s a part of being human, not the best part but most definitely a part. Before Jesus ascended to the Father he told us he would send us a comforter. Jesus himself said I will give you peace that passes all understanding. Jesus himself is peace. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. How then does the trauma of loss and bad news bring us such despair and rob us of life and peace, and keep us form being comforted?
Another example I would like to point out is when Jesus was on the cross and at that moment the he bore all of our sins on himself and the Father looked away because in him there is no sin. Jesus cried out in agony to the Father saying “My God My God why have you forsaken me?” It was the sin that separated Jesus from the Father and that brought the most agonizing reality to our savior because the presence of the Father wasn’t with him. Jesus died to reconcile us to the Father and nothing will stand in the way of that relationship unless we let it. We are loved with a perfect love and we are given the keys to the kingdom. We shouldn’t be moved away from that gift, that reality and that relationship by what happens here. Yes it hurts beyond words and yes it feels like the life has been sucked out of us. But it hasn’t if we don’t let it. Just like Mary and Martha, they took their sorrow, heartache and loss to Jesus. They still had questions but they allowed him into that place in their hearts. For me the holidays have brought great sorrow. My brother had big plans to join us on Thanksgiving after being away for several years in the service, and as the day grew closer and the excitement was mounting we lost him to a drunk driver in another state. During the holidays that was the most festive time for my mother. Her body could not fight the cancer and the battle was lost on new years day, and for my youngest sister of forty who was a widow and the mother of four young children, her battle to cancer was lost on January 29th. The lights still shine and the music still plays “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” and it doesn’t stop the loss and the heartache. But with my heart open to the one who is peace and the comforter whom Jesus sent to me. I’m one with the Father and yes it still hurts and yes I miss my family but my joy is complete and my life is full. I’ve been given the keys to the kingdom and lights are bright and the songs are being sung, because I’ve chosen life. Life here in the now and life eternal. For those who are mourning loss of any kind, its ok to cry, it’s ok to mourn and it’s ok to ask a question but take all of that to the one who came to give us life more abundant here and eternally. Be honest with yourself and with God so in that confession there is no denial and your heart opens up to the life giver. No matter what time of the year it is, it can be the most wonderful time if we allow ourselves life to overcome the loss. Blessings to you in whatever time of the year you are in and may you allow the giver of life into your life.