Monday, December 21, 2020

Yuletide - Winter Solstice

"In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain,
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty —
Jesus Christ.

Today marks the winter solstice or midwinter.  It's officially the shortest day of the year, and the longest night.  This is the period people think of when discussing seasonal depression.  When it truly looks darkest.

Today has also been traditionally Blue Christmas in Western Christianity, a day in the advent season marking the longest night of the year.   Many denominations hold church services that honor people that have lost loved ones and are experiencing grief.  

That hits home this year.  Churches not just being there immediately after a loss, but really continuing to deal with and acknowledge grief.  There are so many people struggling this year, so much work to do, and this is an important part of it.  I wish more denominations and churches were doing the same.

Blue Christmas also coincides with the traditional day of the Feast of St. Thomas.  Thomas the doubter.  You have a convergence of a recognition of Thomas's struggle to believe in Jesus's physical resurrection, the long winter nights before Christmas, and the struggle of the darkness and grief that is faced by people dealing with loss, depression, loneliness, anxiety, etc.  

It's a reminder that the holidays are not always a joyous time for a multitude of reasons, and that we are still to show love and care to those who may be in such a situation.  That we should recognize them.  Honor them.  And struggle alongside them.

Over 300,000 people have lost their lives to COVID-19 alone this year.  That number impacts exponentially more that are experiencing grief.  Grief that has been compounded by the complications COVID-19 brings.  Being unable to be there in the hospital when the loved one died.  Being unable to be around them for days, weeks leading up to it.  Not getting to say goodbye or being caught off guard because of their sudden turn.

With those numbers, I guarantee you there are people in your church that have been impacted.  Beyond that, how many more have lost loved ones to other causes, but were similarly unable to be there, to grieve as they would like to?  How many more are facing depression and anxiety because of lack of employment or the potential close of their business in the coming weeks? 

Do you know how many people in your midst are really hurting right now?

May this midwinter be a good time to pause and reflect.  May we be aware of our surroundings and the situations of those around us.  May we be responsive to the need.  

The joy will come.  The light shines in the darkness, breaking that great darkness right before the dawn.  

But for tonight, we remember the night, and those that it is affecting.

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