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A Liturgy for Those Wearied by Winter



This liturgy is taken from Every Moment Holy Volume 3 from Rabbit Room Press. You can find more liturgies like these at EveryMomentHoly.com.


 

Those Wearied By Winter
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By Douglas McKelvey


O God Who Did First Speak

Light into Deep Darkness, 

illumine and warm again  

our numbed hearts. 


For we are increasingly wrung 

by this tiring tide of night, 

even as our hopes are wearied 

by the long winter that attends it.  


Our world tilts further from the sun;

the days grow shorter by degrees, 

the darkness more complete. 


Our bodies become sluggish, our brains

also—by lack of light—are altered in their

chemistry, so that for many of us, 

this hard season must be endured as 

a war of attrition. We are dug in, defending 

against the bleakness of winter, while 

levity, productivity, and dreams 

are scuttled luxuries strewn somewhere 

behind us, abandoned and covered over 

as by thickly drifting snows—casualties  

of a long battle waged simply to preserve 

some shard of hope tucked within 

the folds of our souls.  

The sunlight, even when it briefly 

kisses our skin this time of year, seems 

distant, thin, and weak against the gloom. 


Ah Lord, how many times might we 

say the same of your mercies, your 

grace, your presence? 


Have we not endured such seasons 

of the spirit, when we do not feel 

the warmth of your nearness? When 

the light of your mercy is pale  

and seems so far away? When we cry 

to you and discern no sudden answer? 

When our love is cold, our fortitude 

crumbled, and our faith slumbering 

inaccessible as some torpid beast 

adrowse in a winter den?  


In such times we might have been tempted 

even to abandon the main narrative 

of our lives: The story of your  

life-giving Spirit and your bright 

kingdom ever on the move,  

at work amongst us,  

in us, and through us, 

training our hearts to yearn toward 

the impending renewal of all things. 

Such hope can be a thread  

so easily lost in winter darkness.


O Christ, shine now, into this long night!

O Spirit, blow upon these cold embers

of our faith, our hope, our love. 

O Father, prepare your children a secret 

fellowship and a feast, even here in this place 

that feels today like desolation. 


Use this numbing chill to turn our faces afresh

toward the warming fires of your presence.

Use this passing darkness to kindle again

our longing for your eternal light. 

Use this sad weight of melancholy 

to train our hearts more perfectly  

in the school of Christlikeness. 


For is it not in such bleak fields as these

where we might best learn obedience? 

Is it not in such dark hours  

when we might practice the making 

of small, faithful choices, regardless 

of our feelings? Is it not in the heavy 

temptation to despair that the  

worthiness of the object of our  

trust is finally proved? Is it not in  

this place of pressing cold and  

night—when we find that within 

ourselves we can no longer muster  

meaningful hope of any good end  

to our journey—where we must learn 

to collapse in your arms, O Christ, and 

there find light and grace enough to take 

one more step,

  and then another,  

  and then another, until  


at last we lift our eyes again  

and turning, see how long and far  

we have followed you—by a steady  

succession of small trusts—through  

this bleak and barren slog, trudging  

toward the day when winter is  

finally in retreat? 


And though we know in this life 

we will suffer the cycling of  

such seasons again and again—our  

suffocating sense of the shortness  

of days an annual struggle, our tired  

hopes pitted perennially against this  

cold and darkness—still let us hold  

fast in our hearts this secret:  


We know that our conflict ends at last 

in a final victory of light and delight, 

in the City of God, where the 

lamb is the light eternal. 


AT WINTER SOLSTICE ONE MIGHT ADD THE FOLLOWING: 


So here in the heart of this longest night, 

let us raise our glasses 

to toast this turning of the tide, 

this beginning of the victory of light. 

Let us step into this fray, well-armed 

with mirth and joy, buoyed by  

the fellowship of friends, 

or at least with a fond remembrance 

of such things, and with the good hope

of their inevitable return. 


Winter has done its worst. And by  

your grace, O God, we are still standing. 

This night marks not the victory of darkness, 

but the far limit of its incursion,  

and from here, like an army overrun, 

it will be pushed back,  

rolled up day-by-day as the sun  

draws nearer, warming the ground, 

till trees bud, flowers bloom, and  

birds return, and we pass again  

into the green and golden  

light of spring, our world  

pregnant with the promise  

of resurrection. 


So let us assail this keep of winter, 

with a sacrifice of conscious praise,  

kindling joy inside its dark heart, that 

we might find our own tired hearts stirred 

again to holy flame, and our own wearied souls 

roused to remembrance of—and trust in—

the long faithfulness of that same God 

who first spoke light into darkness, 

that same Spirit who even now  

illumines our hearts and minds,

and that same Good Shepherd  

who leads us through every long winter,

and into the budding fields and bright songs 

of a world newly awakened. 


Amen.


 

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