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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Night

I considered “solstice” as today’s good word. But I thought I’d better just come right out with it—tonight is the longest night. For a couple of days the major topic of conversation was the lunar eclipse, a rare astronomical coincidence. Monday the question was “Would there be too much cloud cover?” and Tuesday it’s been “Did you get up to see the eclipse?” The eclipse provided a welcome distraction on the shortest day/ longest night.

Some churches in my community are holding Longest Night services as a way of recognizing that for some people this time of merriment and jollity is not so festive. Many are dealing with hard times, with grief or loss, and find all the focus on celebration and fun disturbing.

My kids often tell me I just “know too many people.” I don’t think that is exactly true; but what it does mean is that I often do know the troubles people are dealing with. I know many people have lost dear ones and are missing them especially in this season. Maybe the loss happened years ago and Christmas brings back the memory and makes the sore spot tender again. I know many people undergoing treatment for this or that illness, some serious, some just annoying. I know there are people who are trying to make decisions that will have major consequences for them and their loved ones. I’m aware of stress due to the economy, job struggles or family and marriage stuff. Because even at Christmas, stuff happens!

Most people keep these troubles to themselves, not wanting to spoil others’ happiness. Hence the reason for the Longest Night (or Blue Christmas) services. Carefully chosen music, scriptures that comfort, a worship setting with candles and Kleenex here and there, meant to soothe and calm and support reflecting and remembering. There will be no probing questions, no embarrassing urging everyone to share in some up-beat cheery audience-participation activity. It's OK to come in, sit quietly and leave without conversation,or stay for a cup of tea and a cookie. You won't hear “Are you ready for Christmas; have you got your shopping done; is your family coming for the holiday; don’t you just love this time of year?” All perfectly fine questions, unless you’re caught under a cloud, stuck in this long night.

I don’t know any Community of Christ congregations offering Longest Night services, though I am aware of two or three in my larger neighbourhood. I’m glad those churches are making place for those feeling somewhat sad at this season. I know what it is to feel out of step with absolutely everyone around me. But as I’ve experienced that, I’ve come to realize that I’m not alone and there is a place for me to be sad in this community too. Whether or not we have a Longest Night service we can be sensitive in our celebrating and ensure all are welcome here. And if some decide to stay away, we can be understanding in our responses.

I’m not going to ask for your comment on this post. I just wanted to draw this phenomenon to your attention. May you be blessed, even at this dark time of year as we await the coming of the sun, the coming of the Son.

Posted by Marion

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