On the Friday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, a man was killed in a car accident in a tunnel in Boston. Reading the newspaper report caused pain of the sort that anonymous news sometimes brings. The “Why, Lord?” that stays only until I am distracted by the next sad news item. Finding out that the man was the father of a friend and colleague, the stable force in her family, brought on a more personal sadness for someone I know. His death has caused grief and pain of the sort that makes your throat catch, and gives you butterflies in your stomach and inability to concentrate. It’s a grief that you can taste.
The funeral was held yesterday in a Catholic church, with bright sun shining through the beautiful stained glass window depicting the Last Supper. The grief was palpable. Where is hope in this situation? What can be said to offer care and comfort?
I read somewhere that grief sets its own agenda, it cannot be controlled. You don’t know when it will flood over you and whether the manifestation will be tears, nausea or distraction. Hope seems so false when grief is so real. Words are ineffective and empty, Bible verses can bring more pain.
But one thing does seem to bring comfort. The presence of a person. Being available, not with words but with our presence. Not a false hope that says “Is there anything I can do for you?” when there are no words to express what may be needed. Not a false hope of platitudes and empty words. Not a phone call that is lost every time we are out of range of a cell phone tower. Instead, we offer the fullness of our presence.In the midst of grief, the presence of one who loves can offer hope and comfort. And that is a picture and glory of the hope of Advent. That in the midst of our grief, God became present among us.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.