Grief and loss at Christmas

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Psalm 137:1 By the rivers of Babylon— there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. 2 On the willows there we hung up our harps. 3 For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 4 How could we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! 6 Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

This psalm was written by one experiencing exile. The Babylonians had conquered Jerusalem, torn down the temple, and evacuated surviving Israelites to be servants in Babylon. And then, to add insult to injury, the Babylonian captors demanded the Israelites sing songs of the great Zion, the city of God, Jerusalem – which was no more. The passage above gives voice to the great sense of grief and loss over what was lost.

I hear that sense of grief and loss a lot this time of year. People struggle with the void left by loved ones who’ve died or moved away. Or relationships with loved ones once close which are now broken. Or financial problems that make full participation in the Christmas season difficult. The list can go on and on.

So today I’m praying for those who mourn. Who grieve. Who lament. Who regret. Myself included, for I’m not excluded from this. Lord, minister to us who struggle this time of year. Comfort us and give us strength to embrace this season, as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ. Amen.

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