Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Nativity and the Longest Night

Tomorrow night will be the longest of the year. Our church has used the winter solstice as a opportunity to minister to those who have a tough time at Christmas. It is tough to be alone at Christmas, or deal with sad remembrances or betrayal or job loss or illness. Here's what our pastor, David Campbell wrote about the Longest Night service:
Thirty years ago this past Sunday, my grandfather passed away. It was a Thursday evening. He had been sick for a while. I came home from some after-school activity, and got the news that he was gone. I was sixteen. He was seventy-three. It was the first time in my life I faced a loss this close. This says of course, I was blessed. Many people don’t have all their grandparents until they are sixteen. I did. And they lived close by and I have many fond memories of them all.

And of course, my loss was nothing compared to my grandmother’s. I had lost one of four grandparents. She had lost her husband of 43 years. She had lost her life partner. I could not imagine then, nor can I imagine now, how difficult the Christmas of ’79 was for my grandmother. Christmas for her, would never be the same.

And so it is for many people. Maybe it is the death of a spouse… or a sibling… or a child. Maybe it is an illness or divorce. Maybe you find yourself unemployed for the first time in many years. Maybe your health is not what is used to be. There are many ways to experience loss. And that experience affects others, including Christmas.

That is why we do the Service of Longest Night. We sing of “Good tidings of comfort and joy.” Most Christmas services focus on “joy”. This one is designed to focus on “comfort”. Each year, we hear from someone in the congregation who has suffered loss.

This year, Andrew Lewis will speak. As most of you know, in the summer of 2006, Andrew suffered a stroke. That is not anything you expect in your twenties. It changed his life. He will share of that experience and how God worked in his life through this difficult time. As always, there will be time for people to come and pray. You can light a candle (or candles) to symbolize an event in your life.

If you are going through a difficult December, this is for you. Know you are invited. If you know someone who could benefit, please invite and bring them. Even in the most painful times of life, God is still with us. Come and hear that word on December 21st (The longest night of the year) at 6:00.
The fact that Andrew Lewis is my beloved nephew has nothing to do with my invitation! ;-)

Whether or not you attend the Longest Night service, I hope you will drop by
by Trinity United Methodist Church on Turner-McCall Boulevard in Rome for the Live Nativity Scene tonight or one of the following four nights, 7-9 p.m. to meditate a while about the real Christmas story. It's been a part of my family tradition since 1962. Some of you were there in the late fifties whn the Live Nativity at Trinity was initiated. Come on into the fellowship hall to warm up and, if you like, become a part of the scene. I usually try to take a turn standing on Christmas Eve. If you see a shepherd or wise man who looks a bit like Terrell, please stick around till my half-hour shift is done and say Hi! If you come on Christmas Eve you might also enjoy the Candlelight service (at 4 p.m. or at 5:30 p.m.) in the sanctuary before the Nativity Scene begins.

No comments:

Post a Comment