Tidings of Comfort on the Longest Night

Photo credit: J. Tyler Sandstrom Captain Nowhere Photography Instagram: @captain.nowhere.photography

Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion

and turneth the shadow of death into the morning.

Alleluia, yea, the darkness shineth as the day,

the night is light about me. Amen.

Jonathan Dove’s choral setting of Amos 5:8 and Psalm 139, Seek Him That Maketh The Seven Stars performed by the Choir of Salisbury Cathedral. For me, this music and its divinely-inspired message is perhaps the most beautiful humanly created thing in existence. Click on the link and listen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16a; Mark 6:34-44. December 21, 2020 — The Winter Solstice.

Tidings of Comfort

That is what we proclaim tonight

on this winter solstice —

the longest night of a most difficult year.

Tidings of comfort

expressed in the words of poet Wendell Berry:

         “It gets darker and darker and then Jesus is born.”

Tidings of comfort

proclaimed in Ezekiel and Mark:

God is our shepherd — 

seeking out the scattered and the lost. 

Christ is our shepherd —

guiding us to new, life-giving possibilities.

The Lord is our shepherd — 

providing for all who hunger, all who thirst. 

Our good, Good Shepherd — 

who calls us by name 

who knows our deepest needs

and tenderly cares for us:

All who are carrying burdens.

All who dwell in sadness, disappointment, and grief.

All who find that these feelings come and go … 

         and come again … 

and amplify in the presence of holiday cheer. 

We know the weight of sorrow. 

We know the coldness of death.

And we ourselves could have written the opening line to C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed:

         “No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

Tidings of comfort 

are what we seek tonight

knowing that grief …

         is love with no place to go.

But Tidings of comfort 

sing that the source of all love 

is the Creator of heaven and earth.

And though we may experience feelings that tempt us to despair …

The good-news-gospel-tidings is

 “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5).

And in the Word made flesh, 

this is what we have come to believe.

Christ is the One whom we set our hearts upon.

On this longest night, 

of a most difficult year, 

our Good Shepherd — the Loving Creator — proclaims 

salvation and eternal love to us

from the heavens once again. 

For this very hour, 

planets Jupiter and Saturn

meet in the night sky

and the Christmas Star appears again.

         “It gets darker and darker and then Jesus is born.”

Tidings of comfort to you 

on this longest night

under the brightest Christmas star.

Be illumined with the light of Christ 

comforted by Christ’s love and

buoyed with Christmas-Easter hope.

Tidings of comfort to you, my friends,

tidings of comfort and 

ultimate

joy.

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