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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Consolation for those who have loved, lost, and feel empty: Thoughts on Christmas 1

We have all known loss in one form or another. We all know what it’s like to lose someone close to us. For some it’s their mothers and fathers, grandmas and grandpas. For others it’s their spouses. And yet for others it’s their children.

Some of our losses come because of death. Others come because of breakups and fights and irreconcilable differences. Others still come because of distance, change, and growing up and growing apart.

But all these losses bring with them a feeling of emptiness. They leave a void. They create silence. They create a hole, a place that once was filled with them, now empty. Places at our tables now empty. Places in our beds now cold. No one to fill our hugs and our hearts. What will we do now? How will we go on? Who will we talk to now? Who will fill that void, that silence, that emptiness? What would, what even could replace what was lost? What consolation, what relief is there for the emptiness and sorrow that loss brings?

Simeon and Anna knew this well. Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel. He was promised by the Holy Spirit, by the Lord’s Word, that he would not see death until He saw the Lord’s Christ. He waited year in and year out, experiencing loss all around him, waiting for the Christ to come, waiting to see fulfilled the Lord’s promise, waiting to see the consolation of Israel from that loss. Anna, too, advanced in years knew loss. She was a widow. They both had holes from those they loved and lost over the years. What would fill their emptiness? What restores their joy, brings consolation, fills their arms and their hearts?

Jesus does. God in human flesh. Anna’s joy returns. She praises the Lord and tells everyone of what, of Whom she has seen. Simeon picks Him up. He holds Him in his arms. He glorifies God in song for the fulfillment of His Word. He may now depart in peace. For he has seen death because He has seen the Lord’s Christ. He has seen death and conquered it because the Christ must suffer and die for sin but be raised again on the third day. He has seen the consolation of Israel. He has held it in his own arms. Everything is fulfilled. All things are now whole, nothing is left broken. The Lord’s Christ is come. And He comes to make all things new. He comes to take away sin and sorrow. He comes to bring joy and relief. He comes to fill those who are empty and to find those that are lost. He comes to bring them back together, under one roof, around one table, in His Father’s house. For in His Father’s house are many rooms. And He has gone to prepare a place for you and those you have lost.

Christ comes in the flesh of man to die man’s death. He suffers loss, He empties Himself on the cross to fill those who are empty, who have suffered loss because of sin and death. It is finished.

So come and hold him in your arms. Embrace Him who comes in His Body and Blood in your mouths. Have a seat at the Lord’s table, in His House where no seat is left empty. Join the angels and the archangels. Join those whom you have lost, who have left a void in your lives, and be filled with the consolation of Israel, the consolation of everyone who has loved and lost. You have just seen the worst that death can do: to you and to those whom you love. For Christ died but is risen. And so shall you. Depart in peace. The Lord's Word is fulfilled.