Keeping Advent, day twenty

Night long exposure Perhaps there is no more perfect moment of Advent waiting than the winter solstice. Tonight will be the longest night of the year, and it will be especially dark this year due to a total lunar eclipse.

In the darkest nights of the soul, the light of Christ is most longed for. On this longest night, I think about people in my life who have experienced pains and griefs that have cast them into the darkest solstices of their souls, and who need, in this season, the deepest assurance of God's light and hope. I think about my own fears and losses, and I consider the dark places in our world.

On this and all dark nights, it's hard not to think about the opening sentences of the evening prayer liturgy, in which we cry out in faith for the coming of Christ, our light:

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome. Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening, and the day is almost over. Let your light scatter the darkness and illumine your church. The Spirit and the church cry out: Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. All those who await his appearance pray: Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The whole creation pleads: Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

On this longest night, I pray most fervently that there is hope to be found in the light of God's promises of healing and restoration - promises that come to us in the child for whom we wait, who is Immanuel, God-with-us.

"In the middle of the night" from It's Midnight, Lord by Dom Helder Camara

In the middle of the night.
When stark night was darkest,
then you chose to come.

God's resplendent first-born
sent to make us one.
The voices of doom protest:
"All these words about justice,
love and peace--
all these naïve words
will buckle beneath the weight of a reality
which is brutal and bitter, ever more bitter."

It is true, Lord, it is midnight upon the earth,
moonless night and starved of stars.

But can we forget that You,
the Son of God
chose to be born precisely at midnight?

If you had been afraid of shadows
You would have been born at noon.
But you preferred the night.

Lord, you were born in the middle of the night
because midnight is pregnant with dawn.

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