A somewhat sobering Christmas…

Posted by on Dec 25, 2015 in Blog | 6 comments

This is not the Christmas post I planned to write. In my mind, it was going to be jovial, generous, and filled with hope. Indeed, Christmassy. Perhaps I will manage the hope part.

Sometimes things change quiet suddenly – like today. I am writing on the 23rd, with Christmas two days out. I set out into the day with gentle confidence and a lightness in my step. My must do list had been reduced to manageable proportions, and I knew that after speaking at our Christmas services on the 24th and 25th, I could contemplate 10 days off. The prospect was pleasing. But as another item on my to do list bit the dust, I thought I’d better check a text message I had heard come in. It was ominous. From Cat, my daughter-in-law, it read ‘Mum just received a phone call from the police. Dad’s been in a car accident and is in hospital. Don’t know any details but sounds serious… Please pray. It sounds very serious.’

I don’t know about you, but my instinctive response on hearing bad news is denial. My mind immediately went to ‘Probably nothing much. I imagine they’ve just checked him out at the hospital and want to get him picked up and returned home.’ After all, I had seen Peter just two days before. After a lifetime as a chemical engineer and project manager, in his semi-retirement he opted for a fun job, and had taken on the part time position of groundsman at Vose (where I serve as principal), and was doing an amazing job of transforming everything.

Was doing… yes, past tense, for not long afterwards came a two worded text… ‘He died.’

He died – how can that be… we are having Christmas lunch together with the extended family. He died – but he was in my office just a few days before, hale and hearty. He told me he would be at Vose until the end of 2016 by which time he thought the plan he had to develop the grounds at Vose would be fully implemented and he could say he had finished the task he came to do at the seminary. Like me, he had his own version of to do lists, and had very clear ideas of the projects that had his name on them, and which he wanted to complete.

And it has all happened with Christmas two days away. Doesn’t seem right, somehow. This is the yo, ho, ho time of the year – a time for Santa and reindeers and make believe snowmen (though for the second day in a row the temperature hit the 39 degree C mark in Perth – snowmen, if only…). Yo, ho, ho… Well, that’s one version of Christmas… the unreal one.

There is also Christmas, take two. It sticks more closely to the biblical story. It tells of the birth of a child who would be called Emmanuel – God with us. It speaks of incarnation – of God being present with mere mortals, like us. And it tells a tale of a peasant couple who, being without influence, were forced to settle for their son being born in a stable, surrounded by cattle, cow dung and straw. It speaks of tough times – a flight to Egypt because the despotic king Herod wanted to kill the Christ child – their child. It speaks of hope being born against the odds in impossible circumstances.

And that is why I will be worshipping more fervently than ever this Christmas. Because yo, ho, ho is all very well for a while, but has nothing to say to our deepest sorrows.

This Christmas my extended family is mourning a loss… a sudden completely unexpected loss. But we are also welcoming a birth… The now not so often sung Christmas carol goes, ‘O come, o come Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel…’ O Christ child, come indeed. No – thank you that you are already here… walking with us in both joy and sorrow.

To Peter Hudson, 1955-2015. A man of great faith and love for Christ, he left us too soon…

6 Comments

  1. Sobering indeed Brian. I have spent the Christmas week delivering carol services and traditional worship to the elderly but in the background ministering to the dying and their families… Yo ho ho has a very hollow ring.
    Condolences to those who are mourning.

  2. Sorry to hear that Brian. Life is a chancy business indeed. We never no. We have had another family member have a diagnosis of cancer just w eek or so ago. An immediate op and it looks good. We have already lost two of my siblings spouses to cancer over the years.
    God bless you guys and the work you are doing.
    May 20126 be a very blessed year for Kingdom & family.
    Steve S

  3. Brian, our thoughts are with you at this time and we sympathize as we struggle with the loss of my son only three weeks ago…The lord’s ways are not our ways and we understand He gives and He takes away. We praise Him and lift his name on high and we comfort ourselves in his presence. God be with you all.

  4. So sorry to hear of this Brian. Yet in some ways it reminds me that this is why Christ came – to bring peace and to restore a damaged world. May that peace that we cannot understand be yours as you and the family walk through this dark moment.

  5. A deeply wonderful post Brian, capturing the depth and magnitude of this human life and what God has done. “Joy to the world, the Lord has come” is worth celebrating, but Lord in our deepest sorrows is true too. You capture the pain, grappling and hurt of life, with the truth of God with us, beautifully.

  6. Thanks so much for your kindness and support, both for me and the family. Peter’s funeral is on Thursday 31 Dec at 3pm in the West Chapel at Fremantle Cemetery. All are welcome.

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