by Pastor Mike Carlson, Lead Pastor
In the next four days we will be walking with three families as they bury their dead. A 9-year-old girl, a 7-month-old infant and an 89-year-old man. The journey of grief and pain is deep and primal.
In some ways having such pain at this time of year can be unusually painful. And sometimes the holidays can be a comfort. In the hymn, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, I am struck by the words, “comfort and joy.”
We are running to the joy of Christmas, the meals and love and hugs and squeals of happiness. But Christmas in its origin is almost more about comfort, a comfort that we can take from a God who chooses to be for us and with us. When we sing O Come O Come Emmanuel, we are calling out for our cuts and bruises and pains to be touched by a God who promises to walk with us in the difficulties of life. We cry for comfort and joy.
Last year we did 88 funerals. Half of them were non-members. This is the church we are called to be. We are not here to only serve “members.” In fact, here at St. Andrew’s the “members” serve the community — often a community that needs to be comforted by a warm blanket, a kind word, a tissue to dry a tear, or a Gospel word of grace, of joy.
So sisters and brothers, let us join the angels and shepherds and sing tidings of comfort and joy to a world that needs to be loved and tended to, as well as a world that is joyful about the power and promise of the Emmanuel (God with us).