Posts Tagged ‘#thedifficultyofdeathandchristmas’

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning.”

I have read those words of C.S. Lewis many times over the years, now I have lived them, breathed them, groaned them. I would add to Lewis’ description the feeling that my heart is not beating properly, that it has lost it’s physical rhythm, by the shock of death.

Death and Christmas …

I have been pondering these two this advent season. They both occur, despite our being ready. They affect us all, whether we choose them or not. They settle into our souls, bringing memories from the past. They each affect us well beyond their seasons, for their seasons impact the rest of the calendar year.

… they are difficult to celebrate simultaneously.

Yet …

Death and Christmas came together in the life of this babe, who came at Christmas. Our Joy to the World was birthed out of our need of a redeemer, a saviour. Our Silent Night, so calm and bright, ended at the Old Rugged Cross. Peace on the earth, goodwill to men came at the cost of Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

There cannot be a more specific, more momentous illustration of death and Christmas than in Jesus’ final conversation with a person, as he hung on the cross.

In Luke 23:38-43 Jesus is hanging between two criminals. One of them is yelling insults at Jesus and asks, “aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” The other responds, “we are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Two men, similar criminal activity, similar guilt level. They are, humanly, of the same sin-condition … both guilty of the sin of birth and the sins of life. At this point in the story, they are both condemned to die, physically, eternally.

Then, in his final act, his only hope, that second criminal speaks to Jesus, himself …

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

No pleading, no excuses. Just a simple question asked as a last hope … but it is more than that … for in his simple question comes the heart-level acknowledgement in who is beside him. His question shouts out, in his quiet, shaking voice …

I know who you are … my eyes and soul see that you are He who can save me.

And, in his last words spoken to man, to all of humanity who acknowledges him as our Saviour, Redeemer and Lord, Jesus replies …

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

In the midst of the death of the Christ, is the hope born in the Christmas babe … for a criminal on a cross …

for my dad, for me … for you.

Death and Christmas … they are difficult to celebrate simultaneously. Yet, the sadness I feel over the death of my dad, is born out of the happy memories I have of him. And my (our … for I am not alone in feeling this) earthly great loss will one day be eclipsed by the joy of eternity … an eternity that began with birth of the saviour of the world, at Christmas.

“The pain I feel now
is the happiness I had before.
That’s the deal.”
C.S. Lewis from A Grief Observed


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