Christmas Lamentations – “Sermon”
This is the short talk that I wrote for the Christmas Lamentation service. We started the service with O Come O Come Emmanuel and then Psalm 88.
I offered some words on Psalm 88 but hadn’t written these beforehand.
I am going to start by talking about advent. I really like the season of Advent, I perhaps don’t do a lot to mark it but there is something that I feel I can identify with in it. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” and, as we probably know, it is a season of preparation and expectant waiting for the birth of Christ, a reminder of Israel’s wait for their coming Messiah. A period where we are able to enter the suspend space of christ being here, but (in some senses) not yet. For me this draws parallels with God’s Kingdom, bought by Jesus, but not fully here yet. And so we have the period of waiting – waiting for the coming birth of Christ, the Messiah.
However, unlike the Israelites, we know how the story starts, but also how it ends – the story of Christ’s time on earth. We know that we have the God who came, became human and suffered. Perhaps, for those of us that are currently going through a difficult time, our waiting is more like that of the Disciples at Easter. Once Christ has died on the cross, they are left with a sense of loss, mourning over the death of the man they had come believe to be the Messiah, their friend and a man that they had spent a considerable amount of time travelling with. And for some of us this is the position that we find ourselves in, with a sense of loss and of grief through the loss of a loved one, illness or many other situations.
I want to discuss two things that I feel that we can take from the story that unfolds from Christ’s birth to his death.
Firstly we have the God who suffered, who experienced human suffering.
A God who knows what suffering feels like and understands the place that we are in.
A God who is not present in-spite of our suffering but who we can find to be even more present in our time of suffering.
One of my favourite quotes is by Moltmann – a prisoner of war who found God in the prisoner camp, he said “God was present even behind the barbed wire—no, most of all behind the barbed wire.”
The second thing that we can take from this is resurrection. God suffered, he died, he experienced Hell, but after three days he was resurrected, back in fullness. And this is what God offers us as well. We will find resurrection, we may go through a really difficult period, we may feel that we are experiencing Hell but we will come out the other side.
I want to say to you that it is ok not to be ok, to release you to feel and experience your grief, in the knowledge that Christ suffered and knows what you are going through. That you will be able to work through this difficult period and come out the other side. The usual length of time that it takes for us to go through the grieving process is a year – for some less and for some more. It is not something that we can be expected to come through and get over quickly. I believe that it is important that we work through our feelings, in what may be a period of waiting until we find our resurrection.
So as we move towards the Christmas season of celebration remember that the child who’s birth we celebrate came and experienced what it was like to be human and didn’t spare himself the experience of suffering – of death on the cross. In a while we will share communion together, and perhaps this is something that you would like to reflect upon as we do so.
People were then given the chance to light a candle whilst “God of the Moon and Stars” was played. I will post the communion liturgy that we used over the next couple of days.
I then closed with the thoughts from my last post here.