(EDITOR’S NOTE: What follows is a sermon for December 21st, the longest night of the year. On this night many churches have a “Longest Night” service for those who are struggling to find joy this Christmas, often due to grief. This sermon was shared at St. David’s Episcopal Church, Richmond Virginia, in 2017.)
“The Longest Night”
A Sermon by Matthew B. Harper
The longest night of the year. A time when darkness comes early and stays late, when night feels unexpected and interminable. Tonight we gather to acknowledge that darkness, and to dwell in it quietly; we know it exists, and it’s okay that it does. “Merry Christmas” may not feel all that ‘Merry,’ but it is Christmas and we know the light of dawn is just over the horizon.
“My Most Memorable Christmas in Prison” by CM
The holidays in general, and Christmas in particular, take on special meaning for those of us in prison for a variety of reasons. For the most part, guys are looking forward to receiving a decent mean of turkey and/or ham. Prison staff typically adopts a slightly less confrontational stance and well-meaning volunteers often come in for special events like concerts from church choirs. For some, this season will mark the one time of the year they’ll receive a visit, perhaps some mail; and for others, it’s a time that reminds them just how alone they are because these visits don’t come.
INSIGHTS, 17 YEARS IN PRISON
by Matthew B. Harper
A month ago I met with two wonderful clergy, and our conversation meandered into fruitful territory. An important conversation, it was also the kind you can’t prepare for. So when our wandering words brought us to an important precipice, and I was invited to jump off, I quailed. Seventeen years of incarceration and over thinking about my crimes has led me to an untold number of insights and revelations so imagine my regret when, after being invited to share some, I failed at the task.