While the third Sunday of Advent is traditionally Gaudete/ Rejoice Sunday, the Sunday of Joy, in the northern hemisphere it is getting close to the shortest day and in some places a special service to mark this longest night of the year. Wherever we are on the globe, approaching the winter or summer solstice, holidays can be a time of grief for those separated from loved-ones by death, relationship ruptures or geography and can be difficult for those impacted by sickness, troubles or sorrows. Churches often try to provide a space to acknowledge this side of the holidays – whether a Longest Night service, a Blue Christmas service or some other way of voicing the laments that are also part of this season.
Here on our blog, Michelle is hosting a Preacher Party for those preparing for Blue Christmas/Longest Night services. In the RevGals Facebook group we have shared some resources, and around the blog ring there has been some thoughtful writing about the season.
Caroline shares a poem by Ann Weems. “Some of us walk into Advent/
tethered to our unresolved yesterdays”
Tara writes about those who are living in the shadow of death. “This unlikely King born to this unlikely woman triumphantly breaks the dawn from on high especially to all of us who sit in darkness and/or in the shadows of death and guides our feet into the way of peace!”
Diane writes about a literal dark and muddy night. “and suddenly I think about the promise that God will come. I don’t know why it is that I think it. Maybe it’s the dark night, or the figure with the light, walking ahead of me. Maybe it’s the mud, and all of the people getting stuck, that makes me think of God’s humanity, the incarnation. God came here to share all of it”
Cindy gives a word of encouragement to families who are having a hard time in the holiday seasons, sharing her own experience. “This is a season in which so many families are feeling empty, filled with despair, wondering if they can even hold on another day. … For some families, merely surviving the holidays is considered a “win”. We’ve been there, we know what you are going through. I am here to tell you, to reassure you that it CAN get better for many, many of your children”.
Melanie writes a very practical post about coping with grief during the holidays. “Don’t try to live up to expectations of how you should feel or act – your own or other people’s. You may even feel expectations from your deceased loved one, “She would have wanted me to…” … Everyone grieves in different ways – give yourself plenty of space and grace”
And for a complete change of pace, Johanna, one of RevGals’ humour writers, brings us some revised Christmas carols for a touch of realism in our worship. “Silent night, with earplugs and such,Otherwise not so much”.
If you have resources on your blog that might help with preparation for a Longest Night/Blue Christmas service, please add links in the comments. And if you need some company in your preparation, please join today’s Preacher Party.
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