Rev. Michael Swartz
First Congregational UCC
Longest Night; 12/21/2016


Last Sunday both the Old Testament, Isaiah, reading and the Gospel Reading from Matthew featured the word Emmanuel – God is with us – God dwells with us – for the name of the child who would be born.

The child is born into the human family – God draws close to us.

When we face difficult times most of us do not want to be alone.  Not that we want people talking to us a lot, and certainly we do not want people telling us what to do or what to think.  But we don’t want to be alone, either.

And that is Gods promise to us.  I will not leave you without comfort.

The Psalmist writes:  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”  You are with me, dear God, and I am not alone.

Our gathering together tonight reminds us that we are not alone.  We are not physically alone, and we are not alone in our feelings.  We have a community of faith; we have a God who is with us – Emmanuel.

Tommy Dorsey had experienced personal tragedy and composed this song[1]:

Precious Lord, take my hand.
Lead me on, let me stand.
I am tired, I am weak, and worn.
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light.
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.
When my way grows drear,
Precious Lord, lead me near,
When my life is almost gone.
Hear my cry, hear my call.
Hold my hand, lest I fall.
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.
When the darkness appears
And the night draws near,
And the day is past and gone,
At the river I stand.
Guide my feet, hold my hand,
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

This is an Emmanuel, immanence, sort of song.  God takes our hand in difficult times and even on the longest night.

Amen and amen.

[1] Thomas Andrew Dorsey, 1938