Dec22TueA reflection for the Longest Night Service, Dec 21 2020 December 22, 2020
[The image above is the YouTube playlist that was played during the service]
Today we gather via Zoom on the longest night of the year.
A night where we are perhaps confronted with loss, maybe obvious loss,
or maybe a little more vague and ill-defined.
What are you missing?
What special feelings are brought up in your heart and mind
through this worship service thus far?
Perhaps this week you had (or will have) a feeling of being locked out of the Sanctuary on Christmas Eve, and are sad about this.
-Christmas Eve for many is a highlight of the church year
And we do it in special way: with pew candles and poinsettia trees.
-You might be isolating: and not planning to meet in large groups
-Or you still might be wondering how to best meet with family,
(esp. now that we’re going into “lockdown” on the 26th)
and there may be disagreements,
with some people being more cautious than others.
I heard an observation a while back that really struck me:
When you are young, like when you’re a child,
you celebrate Christmas with everyone you’ve ever known.
But when you’re old, Christmas comes along and you’re painfully aware
of all the people who aren’t there,
all the people who you’ve celebrated with, and aren’t there anymore.
Or in other words:
When you’re young, you’re aware of the presence of loved ones at Christmas.
And when you’re old, you’re aware of the absence of loved ones at Christmas.
That’s a big difference.
Holidays are tricky time for those mourning the loss of a loved one,
whether they passed into eternal rest weeks ago, or years.
The holidays are difficult for those who suffer mental illness.
In these short days, there is not a lot of sunlight:
and this affects our moods (despite all the Christmas decorations and lights).
Amidst the crowds in the malls and at Costco,
We might feel left out, or feel that we’re losing out.
We may regret choices we made in the past,
Or look back with rose-tinted glasses, wistfully,
with a hint of nostalgia.
On Christmas Eve when we sing Silent Night:
there perhaps is time for a tear,
A tear that draws attention to the fact that Christmas is not just about shopping
and merry Christmas and “Ho, Ho Ho.”
This tear we shed points to deeper and painful realities that we undergo,
Reminding us of who we are as part of community:
We are Individuals yet, at the end of the day we are alone,
were it not for God.
Remember we can turn to God for comfort in these bleak days of the year!
Our gospel text from Matthew is often heard at funerals:
“Come to me you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Which is the inspiration for the Christus statue (here in the chancel over my shoulder) arms stretched out, beckoning.
How many over the past century have looked up and found comfort in this image of Jesus, I wonder?
“Come to me and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you”
While Jesus gives us comfort and company,
Life with Jesus is not without a burden.
Life is not easy, that’s for sure, and sometimes it’s harder than other times
(these definitely are difficult times,
requiring more patience than we thought we ever possessed.)
Look to Jesus for guidance and comfort and a fair burden,
Look to Jesus for life when the going gets tough.
Turn to Jesus,
you won’t be disappointed.
Let us pray:
Dear God, thank you for being our light, our salvation, and the stronghold of our life,
And for reminding us that we need not fear anything. Amen.