For eager children waiting for Christmas morning, they may tell you December 24th has to be the longest night. However; the calendar puts the longest night as December 21st. That is because it is the shortest day of the year, making it darker just a little while longer. Many churches have started doing a "Blue Christmas" Service on or around that date. You may have heard the famous Elvis Presley version of "Blue Christmas" blasted through the radio at some point during this season. While the Service is not named after the Elvis song, it does help express that Christmas can be a lonely time. For some, Christmas has come as a reminder that our lives are not as picturesque as that new Hallmark film, or Thomas Kincade greeting card. You may miss a dear loved one who has recently passed, have broken relationships, struggle with health problems or be financially overwhelmed. If you read that and say "That's me!" know that you are not alone. We all are going through something.
"I heard the Bells on Christmas Day" was originally a poem written by William Wadsworth. Wadsworth wrote the poem on Christmas morning after losing his beloved wife and nursing his wounded soldier son back to health. He was prompted to write what he was truly feeling at the time when the world was at war, and his own life falling apart.
"And in despair I bowed my head;
There is no peace on earth," I said:
For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
We remember the longest night as a way to say yes, we all have darkness in our lives. But we also have hope. We will soon rejoice in the coming of Jesus. He was born of the flesh and understands our pain. A savior who will free us from sadness and worry. As Isaiah 9: 2,6 says "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. And they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Like the carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" the poem ends with,
"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Wadsworth wrote this ending after realizing God watches over us and peace will come again. Just as it will for us in our lives.
If you're feeling down this Christmas or just overwhelmed, I encourage you to attend our Blue Christmas service this Thursday, December 19th at 6:30 pm as Pastor Nathan gives us a message of hope.