On Thursday, December 20 at 7:00 p.m., we will be offering our annual Service of the Longest Night in the Sanctuary.
Sometimes called “Blue Christmas,” the Service of the Longest Night is so named because of its proximity to the Winter Solstice - the longest night of the year. But the name is also fitting because - despite the trappings of gifts, holiday meals and celebrations, bright lights, and Christmas carols - the season can be darker than other times of the year for those who have experienced the trauma of loss. The stresses and strains of trying to offer a time of celebration take their toll. Many people find they have trouble feeling "in the spirit" of things, whether because of a recent (or anticipated) death of a family member or friend, the end of a marriage, a frightening medical diagnosis, the loss of employment, or other trying change. In such circumstances, it is certainly not “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Blessedly, it is for those of us who struggle that the birth of Christ may hold the most meaning. For unto us a Savior is born to lift the burden from our shoulders and to wipe away the tears from our eyes. We are not alone for Christ is with us. Christ is the Emmanuel, the God who comes and seeks us out. And finds us in the darkness with His gentle light.
Oftentimes we are not even conscious of the emotional toll the season can take on us when we are wrestling with a serious difficulty. We try to follow old traditions because we have always done so; those traditions have always held such meaning for us. Because of that we hope they will help us find the meaning and peace we seek. But following them can sap from us the energy we need to meet the challenge of the moment. Trying to do everything can leave us spent and thin, like too little butter scraped over too much toast.
Longest Night worship is an affirmation of the burden we carry, a time to name and honor the loss we have suffered, and a way to draw near to the Holy, and celebrate the Emmanuel who will never leave us alone in the dark. It is a way to rediscover the Light of the present season.
Enriching the evening of the Longest Night will be the presence of the BMPC labyrinth, with its warm light and pensive, prayerful possibilities. The labyrinth will be illuminated outside the Sanctuary after worship and open for anyone who chooses to walk it. It will be lit by candles as a reminder of the Light of Christ, present in our midst. It will be there for you to walk or just to contemplate in wonder.
So come on December 20, and find a time of peace and scripture and lovely music, all in the company of believers just like you.
And have a blessed Christmas.