It is the longest night of the year, and I am missing my friend, Terry.
Terry was a parishioner at a church I served in the Mississippi delta for four years, a church that has experienced tremendous loss this year. He was a big supporter of the Blue Christmas service and advocated for the church to provide space for people to grieve. He would regularly schedule appointments simply to talk, to process, and sometimes to grieve that the world wasn’t the way we hoped it would be. He began calling our conversations in my office “Blue Tea” because (a) one or both of us felt blue and (b) we drank tea.
Even if the blues brought us to tea and conversation, doom and gloom did not dominate. There was laughter. There was Scriptural reflection. There was always prayer. And we always, always left with hope.
Kinda like Advent.
Kinda like the Winter Solstice, when we know that the light will only increase after today.
Earlier this week, the days grew shorter and friends lost this year like Terry were on my mind. A parishioner and friend walked in my office with a Christmas gift. I tore through the wrapping to find a sparkling white mug with a cross and the word FAITH intersecting the cross. After I opened it, she said, “For your tea.”
I’ve drunk tea in the faith of that mug everyday since receiving it. Not everyday has been “blue tea,” but I’ve certainly had on my mind the many people who are experiencing the blues this season. I’ve run my finger over the cross and smiled at the word, FAITH. I’ve held it tightly, the warmth inside breaking the cold in my hands as winter dawns.
On this bluest day of the year, may the light of Bethlehem transform your darkness to light. May you open your eyes to the brightness all around you that no night can extinguish. May the hot tea in your mug enliven your frigid, tired hands with faith. May you hear the laughter of friends like Terry, laughter that stirs a song in your heart. May that song lift you above the heartache, above the pain, above the emptiness. May the bells of Christmas Day break through the blues of the Winter Solstice —and draw you into the arms of the Prince of Peace.
all good things to each of you,