Boxing day was Laura’s Birthday. I tried not to think about it. Didn’t screw myself into a ball and try to disappear which is sort of what I wanted to. The problem of course was that I was surrounded by happy Christmas people. It is hard to grieve at Christmas. Yet people die at Christmas, people are alone at Christmas, and Christmas is hard for those people.
My step father lost his father at Christmas. One of the students lost her mother this Christmas. People die all year round but lots of them die in the winter.
I wonder how Laura’s parents coped this Christmas.
When I was at college we had a course is bereavement and funerals by a Vicar who specialised in these sorts of things. He told us about a service he decided to run. He came to the conclusion that the first Christmas without a loved one would be hard. Often people felt like just cancelling Christmas but actually with the rest of the world celebrating that actually made them feel more isolated and lonely. So he started a service. A low key service just before Christmas. Without any of the sugary sweetness of a crib service of a Christingle.
It had carols and readings and the focus of the service was the opportunity for everyone to come forward and light a candle for a loved one.
The amazing thing about this service is that after a few years it became his most popular service at Christmas.
In the Church where I was curate they had a tradition of having a Christmas party at which there would be Christmas readings. Poetry and prose, most of the readings were full of happy children and candy and presents.
I was asked to choose a reading too. The reading I chose (which went down like a lead balloon, incidentally) was from a book entitled Practice in Christianity by a certain Kierkegaard and here it is.
Come to me, all who labour and are burdened and I will give you rest.
The inviter, then, is the abased Jesus Christ, it is he who has spoken these words of invitation. It is not from glory that he says them. If that were the case, then Christianity is paganism and Christ is taken in vain.; therefore it is not true that this is so. But if it were so, that the one who sits in glory would say these words “Come here” as if it were perfectly simple to run straight into the arms of glory- well, no wonder a crowd came running! But those who run in this way have been led on a wild-goose chase, fancying that they know who Christ is. But no one knows that, and in order to believe in him we have to begin with abasement.
The inviter, the one who says these words, that is, the one who says these words is the abased Jesus Christ, the lowly man, born of a despised virgin, his father a carpenter, in kinship with a few other common folk of the lowest class, this lowly man who moreover claimed to be God.
It is the abased Jesus Christ who has spoken these words. And you do not have the right to appropriate one word of Christ’s , not one single word, you do not have the slightest to do with him, you do not have the remotest fellowship with him if you have not become contemporary with him in his abasement.
What Kierkegaard seems to be saying is; some become Christians because they want to be on the winning side of history because they want to be right and best friends with God.
Actually Christianity is about being like Jesus. Jesus who spent his life living in poverty and serving other people before dying the most grotesque of deaths. Let’s face it, his life was fucking miserable.
That, in spite of presents, and chocolate and happy smiley children’s faces, seems to be what Christmas is all about.