The Longest Night


I attended “The Longest Night” service on December 21st, 2015 and I loved it. I was able and willing to enter and sit in a church I had never been in before. I was met with a very friendly welcome! From the moment I walked into the church, the greeter somehow knew my name. To my surprise the lady that greeted me was familiar with my comments I had posted on the church’s FB page. I know that it was and is the Spirit of God working in and through me that lead me to their church.  The greeter gave me instructions to grab a stone from on the small table at the entrance to the sanctuary and as I made my way into the sanctuary I was immediately drawn to the comfort of the space. I quickly recognized a couple I had met about a month ago at a “Pub-ology” discussion group from this church.  They greeted me and remembered my name and I had a sense of peace and connectedness being in that that space.  The sanctuary was beautiful…the tree and its ornaments, to the gorgeous nativity.  I was able to experience peace and compassion while sharing the space with those who call that church “home.” The scripture that was shared and the selected readings to the songs we sang brought peace to my soul, it was a welcomed rest away from the business of the holiday and responsibilities of life. The stone I picked up almost immediately became an extension of my hand, my sensory response was to rub it, feeling and imagining the slight curves and imperfections of the stone, smooth on the edges and rough through the middle. Just as in life, we all experience those smooth surfaces and often feel the bumps that impede our progress. A large portion of the service was about loss…my thoughts quickly and easily were drawn to my mom. Though I miss her greatly, I have peace knowing she’s in Heaven. This brought great comfort to me. I participated in the candle lighting for lost loved one’s and lit a candle for my mom and my grandmother (my mom’s mom). And we shared in communion, remembering why we practice it and what it means to us. And near the closing of the service we were instructed to place our stones in a bowl of water, as if it we were shedding and leaving the sadness and heavy burdens we have placed upon ourselves into the bowl; although I understood the concept, I had grown rather attached to the stone, wanting to take it home and continue to connect my thoughts with the sensory affect it had upon me. I reluctantly released the stone into the bowl of water along with some grief I had chosen to carry around these past few years since my moms passing. I am perhaps making this sound somewhat easy but I do not want to mislead you, letting go is very hard to do. I believe God lead me to that very moment, surrendering to God what was never meant to be mine to carried.  Grief is a process and I used to think I wanted to let it go but felt like I had to hang onto it, to punish myself…that is so far from the truth! Grief does not have to be your enemy, don’t be too quick to push it aside and lie down with it and drown yourself in it; instead, learn to understand it, to process it and to peel back the layers at your choosing. Do not fear grief, I have found it to be filled with vital pieces of information I had stored away in my brain because my heart was not ready to feel. God will be with you every step of your grief journey. The benefits far outweigh the negatives of grief.  Now getting back to Christmas, it is so many things to so many people, it is a season of celebrating. It’s anticipation, it’s waiting, wanting, and hoping…I see and believe it’s ok to celebrate Christ’s birth as well as the idea of Santa Claus, St. Nick! The joy in a child’s eye as they get their first glimpse of gifts under the tree along with the empty glass of milk and the half eaten cookie left on the table all of which are positively priceless! The innocence and pureness of children always leaves me in awe!  Do you have memories of how excited you were as a kid on Christmas morning? I sure hope you do. But I want to go a bit further and ask you, at the moment you realized you needed Jesus…was that reminiscent of the feelings of wonder, hope and excitement you felt on Christmas morning? Jesus is the biggest and the best gift you will ever receive! I remember my “hour of decision” it was one of excitement, hope, and wonderment. My prayer this day and for this season of Advent is for you to feel the love of Jesus for yourself and the wonderment of the Season…Jesus and St.Nick!  Thanks again, First Christian Church of Mooresville, you have made a difference in my life.  ~Peace~