As we approach Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, let us take some time to be still, to acknowledge the dark, messy, or painful places in our lives and be reminded that Christ is shining His light and love into those places.
In him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
John 1: 4-5 (NRSV)
A Litany of Remembrance (adapted)
First, we remember those persons who have been loved or lost. Perhaps a relationship has ended, the people we love are far away, or sickness or death has changed how things used to be. We pause to remember their names, their faces, their voices, and the memories of them that we hold in our hearts. We thank God for them and ask for His comfort. When we are feeling overcome with sadness, we ask for God’s peace that passes all human understanding.
Next, we remember other losses that we find ourselves facing. There are events that enter our lives, uninvited and unwanted — leaving us reeling in pain and shock, unable to shake the feeling that it “just wasn’t supposed to be that way.” Sometimes the stress of it all overwhelms us: The loss of health, of a job or important responsibility in life, of independence, of freedom; the loss of confidence, purpose, security, or self-worth, plans that didn’t work out, or hopes and dreams that have been shattered. As we acknowledge the losses we have experienced during the last couple of years, we ask that God place His peace in our hearts and minds.
Now, we remember our courage to face our pain and sadness, our loneliness and stress; to share our feelings with others, to name our doubts and fears, our anger, frustration, anxiety, worry, depression, or despair, and to dare to hope while in the depths of our pain. Pause now and tell the God who longs to take you by the hand about some areas where you need help finding courage. Hear God say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”
Finally, we remember those who have supported us along life’s journey; those who have walked alongside us in our pain, fear, or loneliness. We pause to remember the prayers, the words of comfort, encouragement, and support, the acts of kindness, and the gift of their simply being present with us in our time of need. We thank God for sending others to remind us that we are never alone. We thank God for those who have been the Hands and Feet of Christ for us.
In the the midst of life’s joy and pain, let us remember that Jesus, Emmanuel, is with us. Jesus, the Light of the World, shines His light into the dark, messy places of our lives and into the darkness of this world. Jesus, our Help from Heaven, who was born as a helpless baby, hears our cries, and understands how weak, alone, and helpless we feel sometimes–especially at this time of the year. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows our hearts and offers us healing and hope amid suffering; to help us understand just how much God loves us. Jesus– the One who has given us His Holy Spirit to help, comfort, and guide us as we seek to follow Him here on earth and wait for His glorious return–Jesus, is with us.