How to celebrate when it hurts?

I don’t know the answer, I just see the difficulty for so many right now.  Somehow I have not been as sensitive to this in past years as I am this year. I know of many people who are celebrating their first Christmases without loved ones.  A husband, wife, grandparent, daughter, son, or friend have passed away this year.  Christmas is a time full of memories and traditions for most of us. We remember Christmas how it used to be and try to imitate the best of those memories. But that is hard to do when our loved one isn’t around.

That first holiday alone is hard for the widows. Who will they have their morning coffee with this year? Why even cook a special meal?  The widowers didn’t even take time to pull out the decorations because their loved ones aren’t around to care.  Or the grandma in the nursing home how is very forgetful, somehow knows that her kids didn’t take time this year to visit and she tries hard to hold her head high.

We must celebrate at Christmas because it isn’t about us or traditions, it’s about our Saviour being born in fulfillment of God’s plan made so long ago. He set in motion this segment of His great design so that Christ would humble himself and come to live as a man for 33 year so that he might die to save you and I.

We must celebrate Jesus’ birthday, yet many will mourn and remember their loved ones. Those who died in Christ will be mourned in a hopeful way and that should bring comfort.  But wounds of love take time to heal and we must allow the tears of healing to flow and the memories to wash over us as treasures from the past.

Thus as we celebrate our Saviour, we must be sensitive to many in pain.

Advertisements

Holidays– What are we celebrating?

So many traditions are involved in different holidays around the world.  There are celebrations that involve fireworks. There are celebrations that involve worship. There are celebrations that involve parades. There are celebrations that involve feasts. There are celebrations that involve gift giving. There are celebrations based on our religions. There are celebrations that involved a country’s independence. There are celebrations that cross international lines and others are only held in one country. 

1441315_10152443596354418_1972511015_nWhat makes a holiday so important to someone?  It is that person’s traditions built up over the years during a particular holiday. When you country celebrates the birth of a king or president, you may only know because you get the day off of school or work.  But other holidays are celebrated with feasts and friends and family and unique things.

Think about what holidays are important where you work.  Are they national or religious?  If they are religious, do other religions recognize that day or treat their friends well?  I once received a huge cake for Easter from a Muslim friend. 

_42282160_churchmosque_afp_203If the holiday is based on a religion is it celebrated in the church, mosque, synagogue or temple?  Easter is a Christian Holiday but do we celebrate in worship with our fellow saints? Or do we feast and have fun with friends and family almost forgetting that our Lord died on that weekend?

Seeing many different traditions around the world, opens your eyes.  You begin to analyze the traditions you  hold and think what is really important.  If we are celebrating Christ’s birth, do we do that in church? Do we even make mention of the real reason for the day or do we celebrate without worship? 

  I have a tree, and cookies, and feast and friends and family and gifts all for Christmas. But I will also celebrate at church with my  fellow saints.  I will spend a majority of my time on Christmas and Christmas eve remembering and rejoicing with others. That happens to be tradition where I currently live, and you know it seems to be a good one! What about you?

Holidays– What are we celebrating?

So many traditions are involved in different holidays around the world.  There are celebrations that involve fireworks. There are celebrations that involve worship. There are celebrations that involve parades. There are celebrations that involve feasts. There are celebrations that involve gift giving. There are celebrations based on our religions. There are celebrations that involved a country’s independence. There are celebrations that cross international lines and others are only held in one country. 

1441315_10152443596354418_1972511015_nWhat makes a holiday so important to someone?  It is that person’s traditions built up over the years during a particular holiday. When you country celebrates the birth of a king or president, you may only know because you get the day off of school or work.  But other holidays are celebrated with feasts and friends and family and unique things.

Think about what holidays are important where you work.  Are they national or religious?  If they are religious, do other religions recognize that day or treat their friends well?  I once received a huge cake for Easter from a Muslim friend. 

_42282160_churchmosque_afp_203If the holiday is based on a religion is it celebrated in the church, mosque, synagogue or temple?  Easter is a Christian Holiday but do we celebrate in worship with our fellow saints? Or do we feast and have fun with friends and family almost forgetting that our Lord died on that weekend?

Seeing many different traditions around the world, opens your eyes.  You begin to analyze the traditions you  hold and think what is really important.  If we are celebrating Christ’s birth, do we do that in church? Do we even make mention of the real reason for the day or do we celebrate without worship? 

  I have a tree, and cookies, and feast and friends and family and gifts all for Christmas. But I will also celebrate at church with my  fellow saints.  I will spend a majority of my time on Christmas and Christmas eve remembering and rejoicing with others. That happens to be tradition where I currently live, and you know it seems to be a good one! What about you?

Out of Africa’s Bush

     So as the holidays approach, I find myself in a situation similar to many Peace Corp workers, missionaries, and NGO volunteers.  We leave our remote locations to celebrate the holidays with people from our organizations or of similar cultural backgrounds. 

    After months of being the only Westerner for miles, I’m looking forward to: 

  1. safety_week08_invitation_smGreat food
  2. Fellowship with old comrades and new ones
  3. Games
  4. Speaking English
  5. Comparing Notes on what is similar or different in our situations
  6. Rest
  7. Swimming (in real swim-wear)
  8. Worshiping in my language with songs I grew up with
  9. Shopping in the “Big City”

The list goes on and one.  But there is also a list of what I fear:

  1. Being around people all the time
  2. How much English I have forgotten
  3. Looking like I’m from the bush
  4. I’ll miss my friends and co-workers in the bush
  5. Not knowing what to talk about with people
  6. Long meetings with the organization, there is no way around the length of some of the discussions and the disagreements about how to deal with problems we face.  It is necessary.

So what can I say?  It is a paradox of emotions as the time draws near.  If I weren’t checking facebook off and on, I may not even remember that Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US, since it is a regular work/school day for most of us.

I am thankful for the amazing opportunity I have to serve here. I am thankful for all the people that I meet both nationals and international workers.  I am thankful for the Lord sustaining me in the remote situation I find myself in.  And, I am looking forward to the Holidays.