The words of the opening collect and prayers from the service of Nine Lessons and Carol are like old friends to me. I sat in my car yesterday to hear the beginning of the service from Kings College.
Lastly let us remember all those who rejoice with us,
but upon another shore and in a greater light,
We lost my beloved father-in-law this year. Everything about our last Christmas together is somehow more vibrant in my memory today. I found myself wondering at church last night what he would have to say about different things in the service. I missed him at dinner afterwards with our church friends. His vibrant, poetic, joyful persona is woven into how I have celebrated Christmas for more than twenty years.
All of us who have lived long enough have lost someone that we love. At certain times of the year it feels as though their presence comes through. Holidays, which we have shared and made holy through annual re-enactment of family traditions, are a time when the separation between our world and the next feels particularly thin to me. Even when our loved one is no longer there, our memories place them there. We can almost reach out and touch them.
I find myself embracing the thought that Sam can “rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light.“ He was always ready to be delighted and astonished. He reveled in new adventures and experiences. As I celebrate today my world continues to be enriched by how he shared his life with us.
Many of us carry someone in our hearts into our holiday celebrations. Maybe you are one who is feeling that keenly today. I hope their memory brings you joy.