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Blue Christmas Sermon December 20, 2022
Lessons: Isaiah 40:1-31
Matthew 11:28-29
Let the words of my mouth and the medications of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O Lord. Amen.
“Why did she have to die?”, I asked the mother of one of my
friends. “She was only 15 years old!” Mrs. Peachtree (not
her real name) answered, “She’s in a much better place.”
While that was true, those aren’t the words that one
necessarily wants to hear when they are hurting over the loss
of a loved one. Mische and I used to ride the school bus
together every day and have a blast. Mische was funny,
compassionate, and caring. She wanted to be a veterinarian
when she got older. In fact, that contributed to how she died.
She ran back into her family’s burning house to rescue one
of the dogs that hadn’t made it out from the fire with the
other animals and human family members. All had made it
out except Mische’s dog. The fire fighters found them
together with Mische’s lifeless arms wrapped around her fur
companion. Neither one made it out. All of Mische’s friends
were so angry! How could God let this happen? And we sure
didn’t need to hear that Mische was in a better place, when all we wanted was for her to be with us, back on the school
bus with her infectious smile, silly jokes, and beautiful

All of us have experienced grief, pain, and loss in our lives,
none of which may be as dramatic as losing a loved one, but
still hurt deeply, especially at this time of year which is
supposed to be so joyful and full of fun! We may feel hurt,
angry, and crabby all the time. Or we may feel lost, bereft,
and all alone. It might be hard to remember why we should
even get out of be in the morning, why we should put two
civil words together, or even comb our hair.

We might be really angry, that our loved one died on us, or
that the person that we thought we knew and loved walked
out the door on us, or recall that awful thing someone did to
us, or even wonder why folks around us look and seem so
happy, bubbly, and bright this time of year while we may
feel like our mood needs a turtle wax to make it shine.
And then there is God. How could God let this happen?
Perhaps we have been taught that we can never be angry
with God because, well, he’s God! So we bottle up that
anger that we have over the difficult, hurtful, or grief
stricken situation that we find ourselves experiencing. And we suffer further. A wise priest friend of mine who was a
counselor once told me that it was okay to be angry at God.
Why? Because he was big enough to take it, and well, he
never stops loving us! That relieved a lot of the guilt that I
was feeling for being angry about a close family member’s
illness. I sighed a huge sigh of relief and was able to let go
of the guilt instead of wallowing in it.

Why do we experience things that are devastating, hurtful,
or depressing in our lives? We can spout off all kinds of
answers. “If we never knew suffering, we would never know
what true joy is like!” Or, “what doesn’t kill you makes you
stronger!” Or, “If there were no evil in the world, how could
we know what goodness there is.” etc. etc. etc. While those
things and many others that we are told are true, they don’t
really do anything to comfort us or help us to move on to a
more positive place. Maybe we just say “I’m sorry,” and,
“we’re human”. Theologian N.T. Wright talks about the
suffering and hurt in the world, and he doesn’t come up with
an answer as to why they exist. But his thought goes
something like this. These things exist. Why does God
permit them to exist? Maybe we really don’t know, but the question is what are we able to do with these situations in
the here and now in God’s love?

What we do know is that God is with us, and he suffers with
us in all of our hurting, and suffering, and pain. In today’s
lesson that we heard from Scripture, we see that the prophet
Isaiah tells us that God “gives power to the faint and
strength to the powerless. They that wait upon the Lord shall
renew their strength.” The lesson from the Gospel of
Matthew tells us that Jesus is here, right here with us to help
us and love us. We know that he is with us in the most
difficult of times, because he wept bitterly at the grave of his
friend Lazarus.

And so, grief is a funny thing. We may think it is linear—
that we move from point A—grief—to point B—complete
healing! But grief is circular. We may think that we’re over
the difficult situation whether it is the death of a loved one, a
difficult break up, or whatever has made us sad and blue.
Then we hear a song, or see a particular sight, hear some
words that take us back to that moment, or even smell a
scent, and we plunge back in to the difficulty, and all those
feelings are dredged up again. We don’t need to beat
ourselves up about it because grief is circular and not linear.

We need not say to ourselves or listen to others who say,
“you should be over this by now.” It is messy, and yes, we
will never be the same. But God is with us!!! Have people
read the prayer cards here.

And it is not only God who is with us to help us overcome
our hurt, grief, or depression, but we have each other to lean
on and help us through. St. Paul tells us in 1Corinthians
12:26, “If one member suffers, all suffer together…” We are
here to love and support each other!

And we too have a part to play in this by seeking out the
help that we need! Asking for help is not a sign of
weakness! It is a sign of strength. God created us to become
the human beings that we are meant to be in all our beauty
and messiness! We might seek out a counselor, or an AA or
Alanon meeting, or spend time with a dog or a cat that can
love us unconditionally. Or we might watch a funny movie
or comedian to make us laugh. We are not alone! We have
God who is right with us, we have this caring community to
lean on, we have others in our community to help us through
because God wants us to have life, and to have it in

Yes, we will never be the same, but as time goes on we
become the new shoot growing out of the dead stump, or the
branch growing out of the dead roots that the prophet speaks
about elsewhere in Scripture. We awake in the love of God
to new life and new hope. Let us go securely knowing that
God is with us, that he loves us, and that we will become the
new shoot out of the dead tree stump. Amen.