Christmas is usually portrayed as a happy family time but for those who have lost loved ones, particularly in the year leading up to the celebrations, it can be a difficult time. This month Journey asked three readers, “How did your faith sustain you in the Christmas after your loss?”
Christmas has always been a wonderful time of celebration for me. Christmas 2004 was no exception.
This is strange because Christmas Day 2004 was seven months to the day from when my Dad died.
I won’t lie, the day was tinged with sadness. For the first time in my 36 years I was not spending part of the Christmas season with my Dad.
Fortunately, I was not alone that Christmas, because Mum came up to visit me for the holiday and we were able to lean on each other for support.
Mum being there was great, but I’m pretty sure the reason Christmas 2004 was still a celebration was because of my faith in Christ.
For me, the most powerful image or idea of Christmas is that Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us, God as one of us.
It’s the idea that God really shares and experiences what it means to be a human being.
When God became human in the baby Jesus it meant that he was going to experience all the joy, the glory, the suffering and the shame that human beings go through.
That includes death and grief and loss.
When dad died after a life time of chronic illness, I’m sure that Jesus travelled with him through that dark valley of the shadow of death to the celebration beyond.
When Mum, my brothers and I wept as we farewelled Dad outside the church, I’m sure Jesus wept with us.
When Dad preached a sermon, stood up for what was right, made the semi-finals of Mastermind, or won the national debating championship, I’m sure Jesus was with him then too, sharing his passion.
On Christmas Day 2004 not only was Mum with me to lean on but so was God in Jesus.
For me that’s what Christmas means, God shares all of life with us, from the cradle to the grave and beyond.
Andrew Gillies is minister with the Claremont and Capella congregations in Central Queensland
Photo : Andrew Gillies