One of the activities I love this time of year is the chance to worship midweek, in the evening on Wednesdays. I greatly enjoy Advent worship whatever form it may take, but I do love Holden Evening Prayer often done in numerous Lutheran churches across the country. This is a service I had never participated in until my late twenties, but one I find deep connection in and this year my thirteen-year-old and I are finding deeper connection with. I find it a true gift to gather in a warmly lit sanctuary when all is dark outside with a chance to pause, be quiet, and wonder about the presence of God. Its an opportunity amidst hearing the cars hustling past or knowing there is still a to-do list at home, to treat myself to caring for my spiritual well-being in a meaningful way. I am also so grateful to return to church in-person on Wednesday evenings again, the first time since 2019.
As I reflect on the symbolism of worshipping in the evening and needing light to gather, I think of Christ as the Light and appreciate the symbolism in entering a church in the darkness and yet, through readings, songs, and others I leave uplifted because of the ways the Light of God has been made known to me. Nights can be filled with tenderness and love and amid these feelings I am touched by God’s listening and empathy. The light in the darkness, whether it be gazing at the stars or candlelight or lights with a low glow in a sanctuary shares with me, and I hope you, a side of God which shares in the joys and sufferings of all living beings, everywhere. A tender care, where nothing is lost. This embracing light comes as a gift which cannot be contained by any particular form and one we do not earn. God’s light is a blanket of tenderness filled with goodness and mercy.
The beginning words of Holden Evening Prayer state, “Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world; the light no darkness can overcome.” The verse continues, “let your light scatter the darkness, and shine within your people here.” As I ponder these words week after week, I am reminded of God’s continual light, fresh possibilities, and the numerous ways God can energize and guide us into lives of love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, and compassion. When we live in these ways God is calling us to, we are helping God become born in the world.
Another beloved song this time of year is Silent Night, Holy Night. Again, there is something special, sacred about worshiping at night. Maybe a part of this is because it is different than the ordinary (and maybe it reminds me some of closing each night around campfires singing songs of praise with campers of all ages). And in that difference, that interruption from the typical pace of life, we notice things more fully and in new ways and that is a part of the hope of Advent. Emanuel, God with us, our daily lives can carry more meaning when we are intentional with our days. My husband loves singing Silent Night on Christmas Eve, when the building lights are turned real low or off and the space is filled with the light of small candles held by individuals at worship. Each of us carries that light of Christ in us, may we have the courage to share that with the world.
Walk in Christ’s footsteps, share God’s Light.
For Rest Ordinary Blessings by Meta Herrick Carlson
The world hustles and benefits from a cruel lie-
Idleness must be earned.
It is reserved for the privileged who have achieved some success.
A reward only after everything has been given or taken.
But our bodies and souls know better.
They remember the seventh day of creation, the generation of rest, the rhythm of a holy pause before there could be more living.
When we rest we call out the lie for the sake of those fooled into thinking they are too powerful to rest, for the sake of those who are unsafe when they pause for peace.
When we rest we can remember it is not a reward but an essential beat, for in our stopping we witness what God is doing inside and way beyond us.