Grieving yet celebrating : Post Christmas reflections by Susie




The Christmas tree just came down today.  I confess it wasn’t laziness or even busyness that kept the tree up this long into January but an honest desire to enjoy its beauty and to keep the celebration going a little longer.  You see,  we got a bit of a late start in experiencing the joy of Christmas.   It wasn’t for lack of preparation.   The day after Thanksgiving, my home was already filled with pine needles, lights, nativity sets, carols, and candles.  Christmas cards were ordered along with the photo calendar for the grandparents!  My Advent Pinterest board was filling up nicely and I was eagerly writing down lists of advent activities to do with the boys to keep the heart of our family focused on the coming of Christ. Our Jesse Tree was up, bare, and waiting to be decorated slowly, night by night as we did our family devotional.  My own favorite Advent devotional was set out on the coffee table. My last blog post ended with a promise of all sorts of fun advent ideas for you and your family.  I was ready for Christmas!     
Then, within the span of a few weeks, the lives of two friends were cut short.  Both were tragic, unexpected, and grieved me to the core.  There were days when grief grabbed my heart so tight I felt as if I couldn’t breathe.  I spent more than a few mornings in bed, I walked around in a fog, and I snapped at my children. I really did want follow through with  the new adventures and activities I had planned to do with my boys, but part of me felt as though it was wrong for my family to be celebrating at such a time.  I felt guilty.  Then, the other part of me would panic!  They are growing up so fast!  I have to enjoy every minute of this wonderful celebration with them!  And all the while,  the cookies didn’t get baked, the crafts didn’t get made, and the newly acquired books and  stories didn’t get read. 

Determined to still spend times with our boys enjoying the anticipation, but still deep in grief, I was so grateful for the preparation that had been done last year.

bare Jesse tree


In a sort of mechanical way, my  husband and I sat down each night with the boys to do our Jesse Tree devotionals.  There are seasons like that.  We reap the harvest of seeds sowed previously.  Last year’s hard work of choosing out Bible events from the kids’ Bibles and then seeking out tree ornaments to symbolize the story was paying off.  Despite the heavy heart and the hands that seemed incapable of doing much, I was so thankful it was all prepped and ready to go.  We were slowly but surely making our way through the story of God’s plan of redemption, night by night, story by story.  Eventually, the head of my heart began to lift and its eyes began to have a glimmer of hope.  I was being reminded of God’s plan from the beginning to rescue his people.  To redeem all of us. The hurting. The grieving. The dying.  From the time of the apple and the serpent and the eating and the separation from God, he promised us a rescuer.  As early as the third chapter of Genesis we were told that the offspring of Eve would crush the enemy’s head!  
Then there was the promise to Noah, and to then to Abraham.  
Oh then came the prophets! Ezekiel, and Isaiah and Daniel and Micah.
There it was.  Joy in the midst of the grief!
  He has come! He has come! Immanuel! God with us!  God with us!
Oh he has come to save us! And save us He did on that cross!  

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57

It wasn’t how I expected to celebrate Advent this year.  Hospital visits.  Prayer vigils. Funerals.   But I can’t think of  a more vivid illustration of why we needed The Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty to come and humble himself , leave all His Heavenly glory, to walk this soiled earth and then, to ultimately rescue us.  Our world,  our bodies and our souls are stained and dying and we need him.  
Oh we need him still.  
So if you too find yourself grieving, if your new year is filled more with broken hearts and tears than visions of fresh starts and clean slates, then don’t forget to still look towards the promise of the Messiah.  Even in your grief, celebrate that he is Immanuel, God WITH us, and He is STILL with us!   In him is our hope, in him is the reminder that this life is fleeting and broken, but that in him is the promise of redemption and life eternal.                               
 
Now that’s worth celebrating!  {And keeping your tree up long into January!}



 


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6 Responses to “Grieving yet celebrating : Post Christmas reflections by Susie”
  1. KellyT says:

    I am crying…so understanding the grief(as the pain of March 2011 is still very real)…as we all do at one point or another. But, praise to God there IS hope. We do have Christ, we do have comfort…our pain, our trials ARE blessings, they ARE worth celebrating. Praise the Lord. Beautiful post Susan…I am so sorry for your losses, but rejoicing that the Lord was a shining light during that/this difficult time.

  2. Daniel says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I was able to,take in the treasure of the season even if it has since passed nearly 2 weeks ago.

  3. Desiré says:

    Wow, Susan, Beautiful! And just what I needed to read. Now I’m even more excited that we chose the Jesse Tree this year. Thank you for sharing this with me!

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  1. [...] you read Susie’s most recent post?  The two of us usually time these things together.  I was walking around in a fog [...]

  2. [...] The excitement of fresh starts combined with post-Christmas let down can make for a strange mix of emotions.   I truly adore the entire Advent season and I absolutely delight in sharing and starting Christmas traditions with my family.  I. LOVE. IT. ALL. Then again, its not unusual for me to wake up a few days after Christmas is over and see all the decorations up and think to myself, “All this CLUTTER has got to go!”  In a frenzy of New Year’s enthusiasm, the tree comes down, decorations are cleared away, and then I dust, scrub, wipe and mop for the first time in weeks leaving me looking at a sterile and bare home.  Last year, I was particularly conflicted.  It had been a sad few months and I couldn’t bear to take down ANY of my Christmas decorations because I was FINALLY celebrating in the midst of my grief. [...]



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