This is my first Christmas without my grandfather, who passed away earlier this year. He never allowed me to call him "grandfather" or "grandpa" - he was only to be "pop-pop."
Christmas was my pop-pop’s favorite time of year. At 96 years old, he felt the joy of Christmas like a kid. Play that Christmas movie again, he'd tell me. He didn't need to say the title. I'd pop in White Christmas and blast the sound to the highest of decibels so he could hear it.
Mostly deaf and almost completely blind, he’d scoot his walker up to the TV screen and lean his face in as close as he could muster without losing his balance. And then, gripping the handlebars of his walker, he’d shuffle along with Bing Crosby and the gals as they danced.
But my pop-pop won’t be joining Bing this year. And he won’t be sitting around my Christmas dinner table.
I love Christmas the way my pop-pop did. The sight of candy canes and ornaments fills me with an overwhelming sense of expectation. I attend every Christmas party possible, venture out to gaudy light shows, and gladly shell out money to see the most cloying of Christmas plays. But, despite my marathon of festivities, I’m feeling a sense of loss this year; I miss my pop-pop.
Are you dealing with loss during the holiday season, too?
Maybe you’re remembering loved ones who have passed away. During the year, their absence sticks in your gut, but Christmas makes it feel like a punch to your entire body.
Or maybe it’s not that someone has died, but relationships have changed. You don’t feel as close to your spouse as you used to. Or maybe one of your children won’t be joining you for Christmas this year. Perhaps a recent move has landed you in a new place that feels foreign to you. Whatever the situation, you spend Christmas thinking of what used to be, longing for the past and hoping to escape the present.
When I feel those slight twinges or great pangs of loss during Christmas, I find peace in reading Scripture and reflecting on the meaning of Christmas. It’s easy to forget that Christmas is about how, after the world’s long waiting, Jesus came down from heaven to earth to be with us. Even amidst loss, even in our pain, the promise of Christmas is that “God is with us” (1 Matthew 1:23b GNT).
Remember that God–and his love–are with you today as you explore these verses with me:
John 1:14,16 (GNTD)
The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father's only Son. … Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.
Ephesians 3:17b-19 (GNTD)
I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God's people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ's love. Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature of God.
Romans 8:38-39 (GNTD)
For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
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