Here is my column for the Blue Christmas service Sunday evening, December 18th.
These nights are the longest of the year. At least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. In Norway, December 21st is significant. Darkness covers the land and light is absent in much of the country. Winter is long and can be harsh. But the Norwegians celebrate the day and even have a name for it: sunturn. Early Norse legend has it that the sun would stop, turn 180 degrees, and start heading the other direction.
Science has since proven the Vikings wrong, but sunturn remains a day of hope and healing. The worst is behind them. Tough days will still exist, and the people make no implication otherwise, but the nights get shorter and the days longer. The promise of sun and life are in front of them. Each new day is better than the one before. The people have emerged stronger.
Sunturn is our story as well. We go through seasons of light and darkness. Darkness has a name. Actually darkness has many names: death, disease, dysfunction, dejection, depression, and distance. God knew this would be the case:
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. –John 16:33
The people of ancient Israel had it pretty tough. Their life was a life of exile. Broken dreams, broken hearts, broken lives. They wanted a place to call their own. And then the prophet spoke on behalf of God. He didn’t promise them a place. He did something better. He promised them a person.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. –Isaiah 9:2
God delivered the promise one dark night in Bethlehem. Mary had a baby and the world would never quite be the same again. It was sunturn. Light replaced darkness once and for all. Things wouldn’t be perfect, but from now on, God would be present.
I have been a pastor for about twenty years with a few breaks here and there for graduate school. I have observed and experienced that Christmas can be a challenging, if not difficult, time for some. The hurts we carry are as real as the darkness of the night sky. If you have ever felt this way, you are not alone. Loss, depression, financial struggles, distance from family, or life being overwhelming can make Christmas a difficult.
But hope is here. God sent Jesus to serve us and save us. To love us and lead us. Welcome to Blue Christmas. I pray you experience God’s hope and God’s healing. If you are a guest tonight – I am grateful you have joined us. I encourage you to read the rest of this bulletin to learn more about The Water’s Edge. We would love to have you be part of our church family!