Somehow, after the joyous celebration of Christ's birthday on December 25, and all the
festivities of the season, people tend to fall into a depression whether or not they are suffering
grief for the loss of a loved one. It's rather like running with a wonderful parade and suddenly
the parade is over and there is nothing left to lift our spirits anymore.

Too many times, I have experienced that feeling and wondered where it originates and what
in the world to do to alleviate it. There are several ways folks try to cope with that
uncomfortable feeling, but I would like to propose one that has worked for me. Several times
throughout the year, we are lifted up by the knowledge of Christ's gifts to us: First His birth on
Christmas day, another during the Easter season when we are all made to realize once again
the unspeakable sacrifice He made to ransom us from our sins by dying on the cross at
Golgotha, and once again when He was taken up to Heaven to live forever with His Father,
God for all eternity in our place and waiting for us to arrive home.

For those of us who believe in Christ, we are guaranteed the same place in Heaven with God
the Father in Whose care our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life along with His
own. When we participate in Ash Wednesday, Easter, and the glorious events afterward, we
are in a real sense, celebrating all those events, we are celebrating renewal, both of our lives
and our spirits to continue in our Godly walk through this life in spite of the hardships, troubles
and grief we each will or have experienced in the past year.

For those of us who are currently experiencing brand new or recent losses of loved ones, I
would urge considering the New Year a time to begin that celebration of renewal and maintain
it all through the next 365 days until we again approach the Holy birth anniversary of Jesus
Christ who made it all possible. We should dedicate every day to giving thanks for our life
eternal with Him Who knew no sin or separation from God the Father, but Who embraced
every ugly aspect of sin and died for us in our place for our sins. What better way to lift
sagging spirits than to move closer to Christ and God the Father. What better means to feel
joyful as a new year begins than to know today, and every day, that we are promised life
eternal with Them in Heaven because of God's perfect gift to us: The birth and death of His
Son, Jesus Christ, only for us! What a wonderful gift!

I can't imagine a greater gift, a greater sacrifice, a greater reason to feel joyful as the year
2004 begins. No matter if the day is gray; no matter is we have nothing to march to; no matter
if our hearts are heavy with grief; Jesus lives, and because He does, we will live forever as
well. New Year's Day is a celebration of renewal, not only for us, but
for our loved ones who have preceded us in death. They have already
experienced a complete renewal by being at home with our Father in
Heaven. Now, isn't that a cause we can be happy about and celebrate
with all our hearts?  I not only think so, I know so!


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