When grief becomes a lament to God, it becomes an act of faith, says Rev. Jae Hong, pastoral care pastor at Princeton UMC. In allowing a lament to come forth, we are able to speak God’s truth, the truth that God is with us, that we are not alone.
Pastor Jae presided at the Longest Night Service, held on the December 20 winter solstice. Like all of the services, this one is recorded on Vimeo as well as on Facebook.
As if to bear witness to the light that no darkness can overcome, in the intimate setting of the Sanford Davis Room the Chrismon tree blazed with lights. On the table, candlelight illuminated the images of stained-glass candles, fashioned by stained glass artist Susan Lidstone.
For lighting the Advent wreath, these lines from a poem by Sarah A. Speed set the tone: “We are ok some days, but some days we are not/ We are familiar with the night, we know it by name….We are a brave face when we have to be strong/ We are tears in the shower when grief rears its head.”
Pastor Jae offered a Prayer for Illumination: God, we do not have night vision. The sun has set on the world as we know it and we do not have night vision. So today we come to your Word hoping that this ancient truth found in scripture will feel like a hand in the dark. Guide our feet. Move us through this wilderness season. Tilt our heads upward to see the stars, and let your Word be a blanket in the cold, a light on the horizon, and a friend to walk alongside. We do not have night vision, but we know we have you. Move through us. Move among us and move through us. Gratefully we pray. Amen.
The songs, the scriptures, the poetry, the prayers were so laden with meaning that I find myself wanting to hear different parts of it again and again. Watching the service helps me provide a space for God’s presence, “space to lament, to name our sorrows, our struggles, our pain,” as Pastor Jae says. “We need to remember to affirm that the light of Christ is indeed greater than darkness.”
Click here to watch the service today.