Joyful is the Dark

sun-eclipse-1560621-1599x2398Partners Jamie Haskins and Sarah Klaassen are Disciples of Christ pastors living in the lovely Columbia, Missouri. Sarah pastors Rock Bridge Christian Church, and Jamie serves as chaplain, instructor, and director of the Center for Faith and Service at Westminster College. This piece was originally published on December 20, 2014.

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A Prayer for the Last Day before the Shortest Day***

God of this present night,
This is a season in which we are quick to pray for light.
We sing:
comfort those who sit in darkness 
death’s dark shadow put to flight 
dawn on our darkness 
praise the one who breaks the darkness 
rise up, and give us light

We imagine that it is only in light that

the hungry find abundance 
debts are all remitted 
worlds are reconciled

But this is a season where we are also called to sing a different song, a-longest-night-
melody. This is a season when we must also make space for the night –

a season when, in your waiting, you call us to remember:

    Joyful is the dark 
    Joyful is the dark
    Joyful is the dark.

It is tempting to say: “Prisoners of darkness: / Come! Walk in the light
As if meeting you in light is preferable to meeting you in dark.
As if you are not present in the dark. As if the darkness is not yours.

This season may we remember, Holy One: You are both end and beginning
both light and darkness.

You are a holy, hidden God and in you worlds are reconciled
    with painful steps and slow 
          with justice surely 
              is our journey in your grace so wide

Wide enough for light and darkness. Wide enough for darkness and light.

Therefore we sing –
for the time has come,
on this eve of Advent’s longest night:

Joyful is the dark. 
Joyful is the dark. 
Joyful is the dark.

May this be our Advent refrain.


***Each of the 21 italicized phrases in this prayer are words selected from 16 seasonal hymns in either Sing the Story or Hymnal: A Worship Book. How many can you identify? [Answers here.]

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