Darkness Amid the Light
Everywhere you go this season, even in New York, the city which might be too cool (or perhaps, too cold) for Christmas, there are sights and sounds of the season. I have the pleasure of working in Rockefeller Center and every day I walk past the giant Christmas tree in its fully lit splendor. I dodge past the Salvation Army bell ringers who, in New York, have elaborate dance routines to Christmas songs. I see the lights and sounds and smells that remind me of the season.
Between the music and the lights, the skating, and the shopping, it’s a festive scene. People are generally in good spirits and looking forward to celebrating the coming Christmas and New Year’s festivities. However, among the tinsel, the smiles, and the glamour of the season, I catch small glimpses of pain: the lesbian daughter who can’t go home because she is not welcomed there, the homeless person who is hungry and alone, the widow who recently lost her husband and is experiencing her first Christmas without him, the overworked retail employee who is barely hanging on during this busy season. To these folks, the holidays seem far from happy. This season is full of both light and dark for them.
It’s fitting to me then, that every time that we celebrate the coming of Christ, we take a moment to remember that in the midst of the joy and anticipation, we also experience pain, grief, and loss. During Advent the days progressively get shorter until around the 21st of December when we experience the winter solstice–the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Light and dark. Together.
On Sunday we will celebrate a Blue Christmas Service which, combined with our Healing Prayer, will recognize the places in our life where we experience the dark together. There is something liberating about being able to name the places in our life where we are broken or hurting. And even if simply naming them doesn’t solve or heal our hurts, I think that naming them helps us to release our pain to God. And God, in God’s unique way, somehow always manages to show up with healing and light. It may not always look the way that we expect it to look, but I have found in my own life that in the midst of my darkness, God finds a way to show up.
Just like the Advent story, the story of the solstice doesn’t end around Christmastime. After experiencing our longest night, slowly but surely, minute by minute, the days start to become longer. More and more light enters in. The world keeps turning and we find our balance and our light. And with God’s help, we will cling to those promises, even if we find ourselves in the dark.
This Sunday, we observe a Blue Christmas worship service, recognizing that—for many—the holidays can be a time of heightened sadness, loss, and despair. Please join us at 10:30am for a service of dance and healing prayer. Afterward, a group will meet to discuss grief and loss. Read more here about how our healing services began.