Help me make it through the night

Published 6:57 pm Saturday, December 22, 2018

By John Warren


This Friday, December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere was the longest night of the year or the Winter Solstice, while in the Southern Hemisphere it will have its shortest night and longest day. 

In the church, the season of Advent is a time of longing, anticipation and finally celebrations but sometimes the celebrations come after a time of suffering the loss of something or someone and the night seems unbearably long.  

As we get nearer and nearer to Christmas the days have become longer and with those hours, we come face to face with those long-held family traditions and events that can cause sadness when you remember the loved ones who will not be at the table for Christmas dinner or around the tree exchanging gifts or spreading cheer.  

You may know how this feels.  If not, it is good to be mindful of those who are grieving this holiday season.  The holiday can stir in us emotions that we would rather not deal with at this time. Some folks attentive to the sorrows of some living through tough times hold a gathering called “The Longest Night” or Blue Christmas. They are meant to be reflective while acknowledging where we are in our lives.  

It may be helpful to start a new tradition that doesn’t cast a beaming light on past traditions. 

In the past, we have held sort of a mini candlelight Christmas service in the Slade Chapel.  

This year we have established a grief group that gets together monthly and we decided to get together at the parsonage for a meal and sharing, which we did Monday. Each month we meet in the church parlor and you can share what you are going through, or you can simply listen. No one is required to say a thing. It turns out to be very therapeutic just coming and listening.  This is a group of men and women who have lost children, parents, spouses, and family.   

What we have learned is that grief is work, sometimes you move forward sometimes out of the blue you move back, but just knowing that there are others who understand what you are going through helps. 

We meet on the second Monday of the Month at 6:30 p.m. all are welcome to join us.   

“This is the night that you can trust that any direction you go, will be walking toward the dawn.”  Jan L. Richardson

John Warren is Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church, 502 North 6th Street in Orange.