This Darkest Time of Year

“Mary treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart.”

–Luke 2:19

Ready or not, somehow it got to be the Solstice and Christmas weekend. (Are we ever ready?)

Some of us are no doubt planning to brave the crowds to buy gifts before Sunday night. Some may be preparing to travel, cook, host, volunteer, sing, eat, relax or share stories. Some may already be with extended family or friends. Some have work, some have COVID, some have less money than they need, some have kids or parents who are struggling, some are facing disappointment, anxiety or grief. Some of us may be realizing belatedly that we want to share the “Christmas spirit” with strangers. (It’s not too late; our outreach offering will go to support immigrants, refugees, people who are homeless and others in need.)

Whatever these next two weeks hold for you I hope you have the kind of holiday that you most need. If you are having a quiet Christmas, an uneventful Christmas, a sad or lonely Christmas, that it is OK.  Being “merry and bright” is only one way to spend the season. This darkest time of year is also a good time for pondering, resting in the dark, feeding the birds, supporting other people, taking walks, wrapping yourself up in a blanket, listening to music, coming to North Parish. We will be waiting for you; you are not alone. There’s a Yule Circle tonight (Friday Dec. 22nd), services on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and a New Year’s Eve party to boot.

When one joins a congregation, there often comes a subtle shift at some point, whether early or late. It happens when we start to feel joy in setting the stage to help others “experience church”- to have their own meaningful or sacred experiences within community. For some folks, this is a big part of their Christmas tradition; our musicians are among this group. I want to thank John, Christina and all our musicians- some of them in multiple ensembles- who do so much to help “create Christmas” for the rest of us and the strangers who come through our doors.

I and the North Parish staff wish you each a good Christmas & New Year’s, complete with electricity, light, heat and hot water! We wish you health, happiness, humor and all good things in the coming New Year, 2024. We also wish you some sweet human connections- whoever, however and wherever you are.

Rev. Lee, Susanne & Stefanie,
John, Christina, Jessica & Mike,
Sarah S., Sarah W. & Natalie,
Michela, Finn, Manuel & Kim

 (Not sure who all these 14 people are? See the North Parish staff page!)  Our Minister and Staff – The North Parish Church of North Andover