Dear Hyde Park Family,
In her excellent 2014 essay in Time magazine titled, “In Praise of Darkness,” noted preacher Barbara Brown Taylor says that we Christians have long had an aversion to the darkness.
“From earliest times, Christians have used “darkness” as a synonym for sin, ignorance, spiritual blindness and death. Visit almost any church and you can still hear it used that way today: Deliver us, O Lord, from the powers of darkness. Shine into our hearts the brightness of your Holy Spirit, and protect us from all perils and dangers of the night.”
It is a notion that is reinforced during Advent and Christmas, with scriptures that we often hear this time of year, related to the birth of Jesus: “Arise, shine, for your light has come,” Isaiah proclaims. “In him was life, and his life was the life of all people,” says John. The shepherds and the magi followed a star in the night sky. The recurring message of Advent is this: Darkness is bad, light is good. Get out of the darkness, and follow the light.
But Taylor would remind us that our task is not to avoid the darkness, or escape the darkness, as if it were possible. It is only in naming and embracing our darkness that we can draw closer to the light of God’s grace.
For you, that darkness may take many forms:
- This may be the first Christmas you will observe without that special loved one by your side.
- You may be facing financial hardship and uncertainty about your future.
- You may have a haunting anxiety over health concerns and a rough year of treatment ahead.
- You may be heartbroken about what is happening in our nation and world.
- You may be feeling the strains of broken relationships, broken promises or broken dreams.
And you may be tempted to escape or avoid that darkness this Advent. Instead, we invite you to name it, claim it and allow God to meet you in the midst of it.
Tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 14, we will once again be hosting a special worship service called “Blue Christmas” at 7 p.m in the Chapel of our Hyde Park campus. You will have the opportunity to gather with others who are struggling in the darkness of their lives, in order to name the dark sadness and shadowy pain within your own life.
And then, on the other side, you will be able to discover the light of Christ. Not despite the darkness, but in the midst of it.
Taylor’s essay invites readers to a different kind of Christian spirituality, one that is truer to her own reality, and full of the grace of God:
“I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”
Blessings to you as you discover God in the dark.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
END OF YEAR GIVING AND 2019 FINANCIAL PLEDGES
If you turned in a pledge card for 2019, and faithfully gave to this year’s budget, thank you! When you turn in an estimate of giving for next year, we can adequately budget to fund and support all that God is calling us to do. Click here to make your pledge for 2019. And we would appreciate your generosity to help us meet expenses for this year. At this point, our income is behind actual expenses at a rate higher than in past years, so please help us finish the year strong! Click here to give an offering for this year.
CHURCH CONFERENCE FOR VISION PLAN APPROVAL THIS MONDAY
Join us this coming Monday night at 6:30 p.m. in the Magnolia Building for a special church conference. We will vote to approve our long-term strategic vision plan. It is the culmination of 14 months of work by our Vision Team. For more information about the plan and to watch one of the recent Town Hall presentations, click here.
CHRISTMAS IS COMING
As you finalize plans for Christmas Eve, join us for one of eight services Dec. 23-24. Click here for details, and invite a friend to come experience the fresh arrival of Jesus in our lives. Consider signing up to serve in hospitality here to provide a warm welcome to the thousands of people joining us.