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Is There Room For Us? - An advent reflection for those who don’t feel very merry this Christmas


I wonder how 2023 has been for you? It seems that even as we move more and more beyond the years of covid lockdowns we haven’t found a sense of ease in the return to ‘normal’ life. The world feels increasingly complex, and our own stories may be littered with losses.

Perhaps as this year comes to an end both joy and sorrow intermingle in your heart. Longing and laughter are no longer opposite ends of a spectrum but are instead adjoining moments that are difficult to discern where one starts and the other ends.

As we look towards Christmas, we bring our whole selves not just our joy and merriment. Many of us will also hold grief and weariness in this season, which clings heavily to the smiles upon our faces.

Is there room in the Christmas story for us if mourning overshadows celebration?

Is there room for us if our arms are empty from the loss of a loved one, whether recently or somewhere in the distance, whether we are in the depths of grief ourselves or on the edge of someone else’s?

Is there room for us if our hearts ache from the impact of broken relationships? Is there room for us if our bodies are marred by illness whether chronic or acute, physical or mental?

Is there room for us if the desperate hopes and longings of our hearts once again go unmet, whether tangible or not?

Is there room for us if we face losses that are harder to quantify but still loom heavy on our shoulders?

Is there room for us if we weighed down by the devastation of violence across our world?

Is there room for us if we are overwhelmed by anger from the injustices faced by many?

Is there room for us if we are disillusioned by churches that are lacking grace and safety?

Is there room for us if mourning overshadows celebration? Is there room?

The incarnation is an earth-shattering moment in history where our view on reality is changed. The Son of God lived among us. His very entrance into the world signifies that there is room for our stories. Christ entered in, not because the world was perfect but because it was broken. Christ’s very coming demonstrates that our God does not delight in the darkness but desires to bring to us light, restoration and healing. Christ entered a world where sickness, death, mourning and loss were a part of every person’s story. In his incarnation, Christ joined our stories and our experiences of loss, sickness, pain and even death to reveal to us God’s salvation story. A story that will one day bring to an end all that seeks to hurt and harm us. A story that reveals that our hurts and losses are not good or right. A story that demonstrates that we are never alone in our suffering.

And it is our very stories of loss and mourning, sin and sickness are the foundational part of the incarnation. So yes, there is room here for you.

One day soon our arms will never again be empty. Our hearts will be restored. Our minds and bodies healed. Our hopes fulfilled. Our burdens lifted. Our world redeemed.

As we wait for Christ’s return, we do so as whole people. Joyful. Grieving. Laughing. Longing. Peaceful. Wrestling. Celebrating. Mourning.

There is room.

I wrote this piece to hold space for the stories of a number of dear friends who have experienced devastating loss in recent months. As we head towards Christmas many of us will grieve different hardships and losses, my prayer is that we may each know the peace of Christ not only in moments of celebration but also in moments of mourning. Wherever you are at I hope that you are truly know that you are seen, known and beloved.


 

Louisa is the Associate Pastor of Youth and Young Adults at Erina Community Baptist Church on the Central Coast. Louisa is married to Simon and they have a beaglier named Ambrose. Louisa is passionate about seeing Christian communities growing as places of grace and safety that promote the spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing of all who come into their midst.

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