78 Because of our God’s deep compassion,
    the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
79     to give light to those who are sitting in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
        to guide us on the path of peace.”     – Luke 1: 78-79 (CEB)

The Winter Solstice is this week.  The time where the day is the shortest and night is the longest.  The image of Light vs. Darkness have long been a part of human philosophy and is used frequently in The Bible.

When I lived in Savannah, area churches would come together for a service during this week before Christmas for a worship service called “The Longest Night”.  It was specifically for those who experience grief or depression this time of year.  The service itself was meant to speak a word of hope and comfort to hurting people.  These words from the Luke 1 (above) are frequently used at this service.  They are the words of Zachariah after his son, John the Baptist, is born.   These words proclaim what God is doing in John, and then Jesus, coming into our world.

Jesus’ birth will not to take away our suffering, but to shed light on our darkness and bring us peace in the midst of our grief.

This is a word of comfort to all who are grieving, suffering, or depressed on the shorter days and longer nights.  The promise is this: that God’s love is coming once again, brighter days are ahead, the time of darkeness will wane once again.

Here’s your Invitation:  If you are one of those going through the longest nights, know that God is with you, in the midst of the darkness, sitting with you.

Here’s your challenge:  If you are one of those who is in a festive mood this day, realize others are not.  Come along side them in their darkness.   Walk with them until the light of God’s love shines through and brings some peace.

Prayer:  Lord, this is hard season for many folks.  It makes your celebrating your birth even more meaningful, because we know we need you.  May your light shine through us into the dark places of the world around us.  Amen.