In recent years, more congregations have been holding Longest Night services on or around December 21, the longest night of the year. While this time of year is often marked by joy and festivities, many among us are left in the shadows. Perhaps it is a deep anguish over a lost or broken relationship or the burden of poor health. It may be the anxiety caused by unemployment and financial stress or the isolation brought on by depression or addiction. Those living in life's shadows find this season of merriment a difficult and painful time.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Zechariah announced that with the coming of the promised Savior "... the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness..." (Luke 1:78- 79). Christ our Savior has brought the living light into the world, a light no darkness can overcome. Wherever we may find ourselves on this longest night, may the light of Christ shine brightly upon and within us.
Luke 1:67-79 (NRSV)
67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
68 "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."