Snow blankets the ground, Christmas lights glimmer, Christmas trees are decorated, wreaths hung, many gifts purchased and already wrapped under the tree and perhaps even Christmas cards written and sent. And yet, somehow, it still feels that no matter how much good cheer we try to hang, wrap, bake or spread, all is not "merry and bright."
For many of us, Christmas travel has been canceled or indefinitely postponed. Our Christmas family gatherings may occur over Zoom or Google Hangout if they occur at all. How different this Christmas is from so many others we have known. We ache for desperately need the assistance of a second stimulus package to help them stay in their homes and put food on the table. Our hearts break for the hundreds of thousands of American lives lost to COVID, the continued specter of racial injustice, grieving families who cannot gather, and all who are exhausted and simply at their wit's end.
Yes, no matter how many cookies we bake, gifts we give or lights we hang, there is much to grieve, much to lament. And we need a space for that. I hope you will join myself and Pastor Bryson (from Trinity United Methodist Church) on Friday evening at 7:00 pm for our congregations' virtual Longest Night worship on YouTube. (An order of worship and link to the service will be sent out tomorrow with our Sunday order of service and worship links.)
See, the thing about lament is that it invites the Divine into our grief. It is a way to share our grief with others, and to begin to move through it. I believe whole-heartedly that lament is part of the pathway to hope and peace and even joy. That doesn't make lament easy or comfortable, but it makes it true. It makes it honest and real. Lament is a practice of compassion for ourselves and others, and indeed for our world. For it recognizes what we have lost, and it makes space for the pain and sorrow, the anger and regret without judging or diminishing or trying to erase or fix. Instead it simply holds. And that is love's work.
Whether or not you participate in the Longest Night Worship over YouTube on Friday, I hope you will utilize the strips of cloth that were in our Advent-to-go bags. Take some time to write your losses, griefs and worries on those and then to rend them -- to tear them. Allow the sound of that tearing to get into your heart, to be the sound of your own anguish and grief at what has been lost -- for your personally or for our communities, nation and world. And then offer those prayers to the One who makes all things whole, the One through whom healing is possible, the One who knows and loves you beyond measure.
If you find that you need some time to talk or pray about your laments and griefs, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. That's what I'm here for. We are not alone -- not in our grief and lament, not in our hope and dreams, not in our joy and celebration.
With you in peace and love,