Darkness and Light

Presumably each person poised to see the recent eclipse possessed some understanding of what happens when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, blocking the view of the sun as it passes. Yet seeing the eclipse was different for each person. No two people saw exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. No two photos look the same. During the four minutes of totality, likely each one viewing the eclipse had some private, personal experience, whether intellectual, visceral or spiritual, whether joy, awe, wonder, or a profound sense of the vast universe set in motion by the God of all creation.

Hope at Easter

During this week when much of the world observes the sacred days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, the underlying theology of each holy day centers on the power of death, the intensity of grief, and the hope of redemption.

The Journey

Grief is a journey we had rather not take. With the death of our loved one, suddenly we are on a forced march through unfamiliar, uncharted, foreign territory.

Relief in the New Year

Relief is surely not exactly what the angels had in mind when they proclaimed the good news of great joy that is Christmas. But in truth, we have created a secular culture around the holidays that is more about worldly celebration than sacred rejoicing. We set ourself up for emotional disappointment with expectations that have little to do with reality, seasonal experiences that never quite measure up, and gatherings that leave us feeling dissatisfied, wanting more or better or whatever. Small wonder that relief is usually so welcome.

A New Year

When we grieve, we’re not suddenly “new” just because December 31 turns into January 1. Our grief may be too fresh to even care much for the promise of a New Year. No mere turn of the calendar can dictate that we suddenly move from disbelief and shock to the reality of life without the one we love. Grief creates its own calendar, one that defies the rhythmic structure of ordinary time.

Live in Light

As the light of God shines into our grief this Christmas, as children of light may we claim the gift of God’s love in the certainty that Emmanuel—the light and love of God’s eternal presence—is with us always. 

Love Light

At this time of year, many of us struggle to reconcile the push/pull of seasonal happiness with our own deep yearning for something deeper, something richer that adds meaning to our relationship with God and creates a more personal experience of God present to us in Christ at Christmas.

Grace Light

Whatever your understanding or expectation of Christmas, Advent is a time to look within, be silent, and listen for the voice of God, especially for those who grieve. During this season of waiting, we reflect, meditate, and prepare our heart to experience the love of God alive and present to us in the world in the person of Jesus, the Savior sent to redeem humankind.

Advent Light

As the sounds and sights of the season propel us toward Christmas, in the days ahead many of us will struggle with darkness. When we grieve during the holidays, it takes an almost superhuman effort to resist the darkness of grief.


On October 3, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued a Proclamation, “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” At that historic time of divisive war, no one was spared from grief. Everyone lost someone or something - a loved one, their property, their human dignity, or an old way of life.


Though we may master forgiveness, forgetting is sometimes easier said than done. Even if we’ve done the work of forgiveness, when the dying embers of troubled memories are fanned to life by some reminder, especially during the holiday season, it’s not always our first impulse to douse the flames with the water of forgiving and forgetting. Sometimes we’d rather just get cozy, make some s’mores, and enjoy the roaring bonfire of our hurt and indignation.


As slowly the holiday season begins to encroach on the sacred space reserved for the one we love and now grieve, many experience a sense of dread and foreboding. We are susceptible to every reminder of the one we love who will no longer be part of the occasions of our life as those around us feast and celebrate. In the words of Edna St. Vincent Millay, “The presence of that absence is everywhere.” Inevitably, grief will be part of our holiday gathering with friends and family.
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