“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

It was always different. The mood, the ambience, and the underlying sense of tranquillity, at the places we visited as a choir. When we visited hospitals, bringing cheer to patients, they followed us from ward to ward, as we sang the familiar Christmas carols. At the children’s ward, we saw little ones who were confined to a hospital bed on Christmas Day, due to one illness or another. But for the brief time we were there, their eyes shone, their little hands clapped, and with faces wreathed in smiles, they enjoyed the sound of the carols.

This last place on our list felt different. This place was not for recovery; this was a place of rest. It was not a place where antibiotics worked or where one anticipated being discharged. This was a place of morphine and painkillers, as patients waited to exit this world. It was a hospice. We went upstairs in single file and gathered at a ward where people looked at us through glazed expressions of pain – either because of a body invaded by cancerous cells or the pain of the impending loss of a loved one. “What do we sing in a place like this?” I thought. Many carols from our repertoire quickly faded, and I mouthed “Silent Night” to the group. We sang sotto voce (in a quiet voice) – it seemed most appropriate, as we finished with a muted “Sleep in heavenly peace.” A moment later a sob broke the quiet, followed by another, and then a wail. A loved one had crossed that final barrier. In the singing of Silent Night, the Lord had called her home.

Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, reminds us not to grieve for a loved  one as one “who has   no hope.” When we lose or miss someone around Christmas time, it is truly difficult, but it cannot diminish the meaning of Christmas. Jesus took on human form to create a way of hope; a way for us  to be reunited with Him eternally; and hope that we will meet our loved ones on the other shore. So, if this Christmas seems hopeless to you, let the hope of Christ arise in you. Celebrate it with thanksgiving for the life that God has given us, and hold fast to the hope that He inspires in us.

Dear Father, in my hopelessness, You are my eternal hope; for in You, I live and move and find meaning. Thank you. Amen.

– Ps. Cecil Clements