And for others … it was a day unlike the one just described. For others it might have been a day mourning parents and a grandmother, all of whom died this past year. For others, it might have been a day of waiting and watching, with a grandmother who is dying from cancer. For others, it might have been a day of remembering your child who was shot and died in Colorado, or your son/daughter/brother/sister/father/mother who died in service to this country, or any of a number of other tragic memories brought to the surface by this holiday proclaimed to be one of love and joy.
Two Sundays ago in church, as a part of the children’s presentation of the story of Christmas, as one of the carols we sang “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” My heart was heavy that morning as it was just a day after the young girl in Colorado had died, and the morning when one of the prayer requests lifted up the family of a young mother who had died in our community. And in that carol, I heard something I needed. This is the final verse:
Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
It’s a Christmas carol with an Easter promise. Jesus came to raise the sons of earth, and Jesus was born to give them second birth – to bring the promise of resurrection. As I think of the others – those whose day was not as pleasant as mine, or perhaps as joyful as yours – I hope that they too, might hear this promise within Christmas. Christmas is the beginning of the story. It is not the end of the story.