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As I am preparing for Christmas this year, I’ve thought a lot about my grandmother, as I so often do. My family always spends Christmas together. After many holiday meals we play games. We often called Grandma a “cheater,” but she always strictly enforced the rules. Although a woman of grace, she was a fierce competitor. Game time was often filled with contagious laughter, spontaneous singalongs, and too much chocolate dessert.

2020 sucks, or as Grandma would have so kindly said, “ah fiddlesticks.” Like so many, I likely would have not been able to see my grandmother this year. And, if she were still here, I can’t imagine the pain of not spending Christmas with her. There is great heartache in knowing many of our family and friends will spend Christmas alone. There are not many comforting words in loneliness, and solitude dims the magic and joy of the Christmas season.

I remember my grandmother’s last moments. As a family, we gathered around her, and we sang. Our cries became song.

At the end of Christmas Eve worship we light candles and sing the familiar hymn, “Silent Night.” Yet how many of us will find ourselves in the lonely silence of Christmas this year? Oh silent night, we cry out. How long until we can raise our voices once again? So we sing out…

“Silent night,
Holy night,
All is not calm
All is not bright
Gather ‘round mothers who labor alone
Hold tight to ones who long to be home
We remember the sick and the dying
We pray for your healing reply.”

It’s OK to cry this Christmas. But we also must remember, we have a God who shows up as a newborn crying baby. His cries, a prescribed song of hope for all the world. Mary Oliver writes, “I believe in… singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.” However, a child’s fresh tears are medicine for a hurting world. This year we might not stand by loved ones, singing familiar songs. However, the Christ child still comes, and in our mourning cries, there is a communal song.

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