Monday, December 21, 2009

Sweetly Broken

There is a certain rightness about a funeral at Christmas.

Not that a funeral seems right at any time of the year; indeed, it is a jarring reminder of all that is not right. But that is precisely why it felt appropriate to pause on the Saturday before Christmas, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of shopping and baking and mailing and cleaning, to mourn.

It is the close juxtaposition of the two events that brought to light for me this year the "reason for the season."

What does the little baby in my nativity scene signify?

He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa 9:14).

Wonderful Counselor. Who needs a counselor but the troubled, the vexed, the pained? Her family, her friends, you, me; he is our Wonderful Counselor.

Mighty God. What better demonstration of the need for a Mighty God than the apparent victory of the strongest foe we face in our earthly lives; and who but our Mighty God could have swallowed death in victory?

Everlasting Father. He is unchanging, he is gently caring, and he welcomed our sister -- his beloved daughter -- into eternity.

Prince of Peace. The sermon for the funeral was entitled "Great is Your Peace," after verse 13 of Isaiah 54, a verse specifically selected by M for her own funeral. The chapter is a promise of the joy and shalom that the Messiah will bring. Because of Christmas, we now have peace with God, and we will enjoy a fullness of all-encompassing peace in eternity that we can't even begin to imagine now. Read Isaiah 54 and see if your heart doesn't sing and yearn for that day.


What does one write in a sympathy card on such an occasion? What doesn't sound cliche? I went with the seasonal theme: Immanuel, God is with us. God is with you.

Irenaeus believed that by living through all stages of life -- infanthood, teen years, adult, being born, dying, Christ redeemed each of those stages of life. He is not only with us, but he identifies deeply and personally with each of our sufferings.

I asked a friend at the funeral reception how she was doing? "I'm a mess," she said.

Aren't we all?

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel has come to thee,
O Israel.

1 comment:

Melodee said...

Thanks, Molly. I too have been pondering Christmas anew in light of M's death.