Christmas is heralded as a season of goodwill and peace. A time to celebrate the coming of the Son of God as a baby. A time to celebrate with family and friends. A time for parties and get-togethers. It is not thought of as a time of Woe.
So what place does Woe have in the season of Christmas?
The word woe is not used frequently these days, but it refers to serious distress, suffering or trouble. Underneath the tinsel and glitter of the Christmas season, there are those who find themselves suffering in challenging and distressing situations and circumstances.
Each week in Advent has a different theme. The first week is hope, the second week is peace, the third is joy, and the final week is love.
The themes of woe, hope, peace joy and love were brought into focus for me, a couple of years ago, during a chance encounter on a bus ride.
The Bus Journey:
I was travelling to a hospital appointment by bus. At the time I was waiting for a hip replacement and walking with a stick, so I was sitting in a priority seat at the front of the bus. At one stop an elderly Irish lady got on and as she sat down next to me, the bus lurched and she bumped into me!
We got talking about prayer, church, visions, the Catholic church and her poverty stricken upbringing and background in Ireland. She described in detail what Christmas was like for her as child. On Christmas day she remembers the family just had one potato each to eat. She had experienced a litany of woes.
When the bus stopped in town, we continued to chat as we walked towards the Market Square. She said that when she lit her candle and prayed, she would pray for me. And I heard myself say “May I pray for you now?” And she said,”Yes!”
So I prayed a brief prayer asking God to give her strength and bless her with peace. (Psalm 29:11). She said she definitely felt something as I prayed and added, “It’s like you have given me a bit of yourself!”
As we walked past the Council building, she suddenly announced that she would like to give some money to my church (I had told her about how we had built a Kids Centre, to accommodate all the children, as we had run out of space for the numbers that attended).
I said that was really kind of her, but she didn’t need to. However, she was adamant that she really wanted to. She delved into her handbag, retrieved her purse and on opening it pulled out £20 and gave it to me!
We parted, and as I walked to the tram stop to continue my journey, she shouted after me, at the top of her voice, “I love you!”
Her name was Mona, yet not once in our time together did I hear her moan or complain about the woes she had experienced, instead she showed hope and love and compassion.
- Is there anyone you are aware of who is in need of a sign of hope, love, or compassion?
- How might you be a joy-bringer to them in this season of Advent?