I don’t know about you, but I quite like this time of year. The clocks have gone back and each day is a little darker, a little shorter. The darkness helps me to remember that the time is coming when we begin to prepare for the coming of the light of the world.
This time of the year is also the start of a season of remembering. The darkness brings with it a sombreness and stillness that helps with remembrance. Having passed All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, we enter a time of remembering all those who have gone before us.
In my circuit we have several memorial services, a chance for people who have lost loved ones in the previous year or even before that, to come together and remember. During the service there is time for people to share memories, to sit and contemplate quietly, and to light a candle. That little light in the darkness is a sign that their loved one is still remembered, still loved, but is also a small sign of hope.
There are many well-known hymns that are used at memorial services, often similar to ones chosen for funerals, hymns that acknowledge grief yet ask God to stay with us in the time of darkness, bringing life and hope. Such hymns include Abide with me by Henry Lyte (Singing the Faith 141), or any hymn that uses the beautiful words of Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd…” A different hymn would be I watch the sunrise by John Glynn (Singing the Faith 469), which looks at light and shadows in our lives, but also asks that God be always near us, through all the times in our lives.
God of all time
As the days shorten and the shadows lengthen
We ask that you are with us in our memories
Help us to cherish those we love and the time we have with them
Help us to remember those who have gone and the times we spent in their company
Be with us in times of grief,
Walk with us through the valley of shadows
Help us to see the light in the darkness and bring us peace
You can download this Prayer for the Week here.