Sometimes the Christmas season is holly jolly, merry, and bright. Sometimes Christmas is hard and sad. It hurts when things do not go as expected, when we miss people who are not with us for one reason or another, and sometimes when traditions change.
Our nephew, Jackson, died in September before his November due date. We expected this to be his first Christmas. It has been hard to miss meeting him and to guess how to be comforting and supportive of my sister and brother-in-law as we live in different states.
My grandpa died in March. While we have already passed Thanksgiving and his birthday since then, Christmas is different somehow. While parts of this season have been meaningful, touching, sweet, and fun in turns, sometimes I grow sad. I know that Grandpa and Jackson are not missing out. I know my sadness is selfishly for myself and my family who is still here because we miss them. Sometimes it is hard to feel joyful.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
(Isaiah 61:1-3, New Living Translation)
This morning, I read this passage when I had been thinking about Grandpa and Jackson. It reminds me that the world is full of poverty, injustice, captivity, sorrow, and despair. I also remember that is not the whole picture, that Christmas is when we celebrate that Jesus came with good news, freedom, grace, and comfort. He came to die and live and reunite us with God. The whole picture highlights God’s glory and grace, which is really, truly a reason for joy.