Last night, a small group of us gathered for a service that honored both darkness and light: remembering our loved ones, acknowledging our losses, and praying for hope amidst it all.
This Blue Christmas Service is the first I’ve ever led or attended. And, though I have some ideas for how to tweak next year’s, I’ll never go another Advent without one. Here’s why:
- Our church is a community of people who’ve covenanted to love, support and encourage one another. Thus, whether any of us, individually, is experiencing the pain of sadness or loss, there are members of our congregation who are. I want us to know we are here for each other.
- As the poet Madeleine L’Engle wrote: God did not wait for the perfect time, God came when the need was deep and great. In other words, the Light of Christ does not enter a world that’s already light-filled. It enters a world consumed by a good deal of darkness. Advent is a time of waiting for the Light, and I think we do well by our souls to spend some of this time facing the dark.
- The more I reflect, the more I think Incarnation (the Presence of God in the world) is the most important theological concept of all. Emmanuel means, “God with us.” And this is what we await at Advent: God’s Presence. So, just as we experience the despair of Good Friday before the joy of Easter, I suggest experiencing the darkness of light’s absence before the Light of Christmas can be a powerful spiritual practice. Last night certainly was.
As we enter into our series of holiday services (see below), I pray you will each have a blessed Advent and Joyous Christmas. I leave you with this beautiful poem (Beannacht means “blessing” in Gaelic) that, though not written for Advent, speaks to many at this time of year.
Wishing you all the Peace, Hope, Joy and Love this Season can bring,
Beannacht by Johne O’Donohue
On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.
And when your eyes
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.
(note: a currach is a canvas fishing boat)
Stewardship Campaign—THANK YOU to everyone who has made their 2019 pledge! If you haven’t, we ask that you please pledge before Christmas. Our 2019 budget calls for a 4% increase in pledges, primarily due to a 2.8% COLA for our dedicated staff. You can send in the pledge card you were mailed or fill one out online.
Christmas Pageant, 12/16—Our regular Sunday morning service will include the annual Nativity Pageant. All children and youth are invited to participate. Participating families, please arrive by 9:30 am. Thank you!
Poetry Hour, 12/16—Join us from 4-5 pm in the parlor and bring one or two poems on any theme (with 8 copies to share). Friends welcome! Questions? Lerowell@aol.com.
Poetry, Lessons and Carols Service, 12/23—We’ll celebrate the coming birth of Christ with a 10:30 am service of poetry, scripture and song. There will be no Sunday School, but children of all ages are welcome. The Nursery will be open.
Christmas Eve Potluck and Fireside Service, 12/24—If you’d like to gather for a potluck supper at 6 pm, RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Fireside Service of traditional lessons and carols will begin at 7:30 pm.
Year’s End Service, 12/30—We’ll gather in the Parlor for a 10:30 am service that celebrates both endings and beginnings. There will be no Sunday School, but children of all ages are welcome. The Nursery will be open.