“The harvest is ended, the summer is past and we are not saved,” rattles through my mind like a chant this holiday season. I have bowed under the yoke of chronic grief laid across my shoulders every Christmas for years. My grief was too smelly to allow me to sit at the table.
When there was room, they weren’t my people. How my family did Christmas -- gone forever. Sobs roared when this hit home. Even Jesus seemed fierce. (Have you read what He says in the gospels? His stories are no warm fuzzies. Outer darkness. Gnashing of teeth. Those are his.)
But there’s a Psalm that says God draws near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. When the loneliness wells up, I have felt this Presence come by, as if someone has taken Kleenex and wiped my tears.
I remember the heart of the gospel that I can’t, no I can’t, ever live up to Jesus’ challenges. I am no good Samaritan. I’ve not fed the poor. There are so many. But Jesus paid the price for those failures. My Lutheran friend, John, says, Exactly. Now you are free to do the best good you can, without being dogged by guilt, by fear.
As for my grief, time eased it. Neighbors’ hospitality at Christmas eased the rest.
Jesus came as vulnerable and helpless a human can be under the song, “Peace on earth, good will to men.” He reminds me how mere hospitality, people to people, can bring its own peace on earth, goodwill.