December 21st marks the Winter Solstice, the day on which the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. This low angle makes the night, the longest night of the year. Since the earliest times, as humans strived to make sense of their world, people have marked the solstices as great transitional days. Cultural interpretations varied, but in the Northern Hemisphere celebrations recognized the transition from the darkest days to the light that is coming. In Christianity, the night sky coincides with the season of Advent and the coming of the Light.
Bishop Mark Beckwith encourages congregations in our diocese to share our faith and traditions with the wider neighborhood in anticipation of the coming of Christ. The Commission on Liturgy and Music offers the following suggestions for your use or as a springboard to other ones. We also suggest that you have clear signage inviting people in. Get the word out before the date to let the community and the diocese know that you are up to something intriguing.
- Keep the church lights on all night.
- Create a station in the vestibule/porch of the church that involves the seeker – light a candle, write a note to God, say a prayer possibly with a focal point of an icon or empty creche.
- Keep the church doors open for prayer. Make the space inviting with soft lighting and music.
- Open church doors to collect for a need – i.e. groceries, pet food, coats, toiletries for homeless/halfway house, etc.