Rejoice and Weep


Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. – Romans 12:15

Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray, watch and pray. 

– The Faith We Sing, 2198

The next two Sundays are going to amazing, powerful, joyful, inspiring: This week the Chancel Choir and orchestra offer their cantata at 10:00. The following Sunday is Christmas Eve! The 10:00 service will be a family, kids-first service- including singing from a Children’s Ensemble and the sermon time will be a real-life journey to Bethlehem, as I will share pictures and stories from my trip there last year. At 5:00 Pastor Rosedanny will lead a Spanish language Christmas Eve service- another way to bless this neighborhood- and at 7:00 will be a traditional service with full choir and candlelight. I can’t wait.

But inbetween those Sunday services, on the longest, darkness night of the year, we will offer a Longest Night worship service: Thursday, December 21, 6:00 p.m. This is a quiet, reflective service, designed for those who find the holidays challenging. Some have lost loved ones; some have difficult times at work or home. For some, the season isn’t full of joy and happiness, and they feel left out- even abandoned. Do you know someone feeling that way? Do you? My prayer is that this service is a blessing and reminder of the great promise of our faith: nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Many years ago, my mom gifted me a book of poems by Ann Weems called Kneeling in Jerusalem. Here are a couple of prayers that struck me today.

Yesterday’s Pain

Some of us walk into Advent

Tethered to our unresolved yesterdays

The pain still stabbing

The hurt still throbbing.

It’s not that we don’t know better;

It’s just that we can’t stand up by ourselves anymore by ourselves.

On the way to Bethlehem, 

Will you give us a hand?

In December Darkness

The whole world waits in December darkness

For a glimpse of the Light of God.

Even those who snarl ‘Humbug!’

And chase away the carolers

Have been looking toward the skies.

The one who declared he never would forgive

Has forgiven,

And those who left home

Have returned,

And even wars are halted,

If briefly,

As the whole world looks starward.

In the December darkness

We peer from our windows

Watching for an angel with rainbow wings

To announce the Hope of the World.

Today is December 14, the day that would have been my father’s 77th birthday. I am very grateful for the many ways Spring Valley UMC has offered my family support: cards, memorial gifts, meals, hugs. As we make the journey from joy to longest night to joy again, may we remember to walk alongside each other through the highs and lows of life, readying ourselves and each other for the Christ Child to be born us anew.

Rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep,

Pastor Frank