December 21, 2016
Born to Bear
“Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Isaiah 53:4
This well-known Good Friday verse seems especially relevant to this week before Christmas. We prayed Sunday for various families facing unexpected grief over the loss of young people who have died suddenly and tragically. Since then, death has visited our church with the passing of two elderly members who had suffered extensive and prolonged illness. Now, our whole county mourns the sudden death of our sheriff. Our prayers reach heavenward on behalf of those whose lives have been shattered and forever changed. May God’s mercy and grace reach deeply into their grieving hearts.
Death is not what we expect or desire to face at a time of celebrating the birth of our Savior. Yet, it is precisely His birth that enables us to face death with faith, courage, and hope. The Lord Jesus, one with the Father and the Spirit from all eternity, entered time and physical space to become one with us in our humanity. Though conceived by the Holy Spirit, He was born and lived as fully human. He experienced our limitations and shared in the joys and sorrows of the people He came to redeem with His life, death, and resurrection. During that time He was tempted and tested as we are but never was conquered by sin. Thus, his death became a perfect sacrifice for all of humanity. He bore the full grief and sorrow that results from the sins of the whole world.
It is by trusting and accepting what Jesus did for us that we experience loss as a temporary sorrow. Celebrating the birth of Jesus reminds us that in the depth of grief God chose, and continues to choose, to offer new life. When our dreams die, God in Christ carries us to new ones of His choosing. When our spirits sag from continued stresses, through His Word and Sacrament, God in Christ lifts them with the hope of His ever-present strength. And when we experience the death of those close to us, God in Christ promises that because He rose, we and all who believe in Him will also have new life forever.
Christmas celebrates a birth—a birth that reminds us that even in death we have life.
May God in Christ, born to bear our sorrows, comfort all that mourn and give peace to all who are distressed!