I reflected on this when we had our surgery Christmas meal the other evening. As I gave my little spiel summarising the year, I reminded folk of some happy events (one of our young receptionists had had a baby), and some less happy ones, since one of our nurses had passed away so prematurely. And I added that Christmas, highlighting and accentuating life's joys and sorrows can be a stressful time for many.
It is unimaginable to think of those dear children in Connecticut and their grieving parents. Such events bring home to us both the preciousness of life and the deep seated longing that we have for a better world. In the season of Advent, Christian believers look back and celebrate both the first coming of Jesus, but also in anticipation of his second return, when he comes back to finallyl renew and fix or all things.
I read out just a short quote from Lord of the Rings, in which towards the end of the book Gandalf encourages Sam after Sauron's evil reign had come to an end,
How do you feel?’ he said. But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: ‘Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?’
‘A great Shadow has departed,’ said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then, as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed.
How do I feel?' he cried. 'Well, I don't know how to say t. I feel, I feel'-he waved his arms in the air,-'I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard.'And so these lovely words from the mysterious book of Revelation giving us great comfort and joy as we face the future...
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”(Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)
Bring it on Lord!