Readings and Meditation from the Longest Night/Blue Christmas Service 2016
Isaiah 40: 1-2, 26-31
1“Comfort, oh comfort my people,” says your God.
2“Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem,
but also make it very clear that she has served her sentence,
26Look at the night skies:
Who do you think made all this?
Who marches this army of stars out each night,
counts them off, calls each by name
—so magnificent! so powerful!—
and never overlooks a single one?
27Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
28Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
29He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
30For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
31But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.
Matthew 11: 28-30
28“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 29Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Come to Me!
God calls us to “Come to Me,” when we find ourselves in those difficult places of our lives.
“Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.”
I don’t believe that this means that our lives were meant to always be perfect.
Our lives are not always going to be easy.
But I think that it is important to know that even in the midst of those times of struggle God is asking us to “Come to me,” and I will share your burden.
At this time of the year we speak so much about light, and the light of the candle becomes our symbol of what it means to be in the world.
On Christmas Day we will hear from the Gospel of John verse 5, “5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (The Message)
This does not tell us that there is not darkness, because there is.
It also does not tell us that the darkness is turned into light, but rather in the midst of the darkness there is light and the darkness does not overshadow or overcome the light.
We use candles because they are a great symbol of this.
As we light a candle we can see a glow of light around that candle and the darkness retreats.
The darkness does not disappear, but it does retreat.
As we light more candles from our first candle we come to understand that the light of the first candle is not diminished as we light the other candles – in fact it does not lose any of its original light, but rather the other candles only serve to add to the light.
God is much like that first candle.
God brings light in the midst of the darkness of this world, the darkness caused by grief, suffering, anxiety, and confusion.
And no matter how often we come to the light, this light is not dimmed, it is always there for us.
God calls us to “Come to Me” and so as we do, we let that light of God’s peace, comfort, and hope take alight in our souls, even as we struggle.