On a cold, Sunday morning, as I was preparing to go to church, I got word from Iowa of a terrible accident. During the night, a young member of our family had been taken from us. It is the kind of turn in life that just doesn’t make sense this side of Heaven.
Speaking through tears, a beloved member of my family asked, “How do we celebrate Christmas?” And I confess, in the moment, I didn’t have an answer. For as I sat stunned by the events that had come to pass, I couldn’t find words.
Though I wanted to sit alone and cry, I went to church with my family instead. And it was there, during worship, that I found clarity. My heart still broke. My spirit ached. And tears streamed down my face as I replayed the news in my mind. But I now understood the answer to the question.
How do we celebrate Christmas in the midst of tragedy?
We celebrate because Christ still came.
He left his throne, came to us as a baby, took on the sins of a fallen world, and conquered death. We celebrate, for without a manger, there is no cross. And without a cross there is no redemption.
After all, Christmas is not about beautifully trimmed trees or carefully wrapped gifts. It’s not about music, parties, food, or games. The true reason for the season cannot be stolen from us no matter what we may be feeling. And that includes grief.
2011 Heather Arbuckle