Bethlehem Lutheran Church in rural Pierce County has beckoned me to stop and admire its calm countenance from across the road multiple times. I thought of it again this time of year, for obvious reasons.

I haven’t been able to find much online about the church, or Eidsvold that shares their Facebook page. The drive from one to the other on winding roads led me to the second church tucked in a dale. Their name is boldly and artfully proclaimed in the metal railing along the inclined sidewalk to their door — the stenciled letters cut out of the metal are solid daylight.

I did find a comment on the Ellsworth Senior Center page thanking Bethlehem Lutheran for a donation. (And a fascinating Christmas story about World War II prisoners receiving escape route maps concealed in decks of cards.)

One of my searches yielded multiple results for another rural church, but on the other side of the river, and a link to “The Longest Night” worship service.

Following the star, so to speak, I watched that worship video. It encouraged lament. Take time to get it out of your system. Consider some of the words from Mary’s experience before the Magnificat, such as “perplexed,” “ponder,” and “overshadowed.” After all, it’s not like BVM got to have a big wedding and a fancy honeymoon. Talk about paradigm shift.

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We were invited to implore God with our own personal “How can this be?”

We were also invited to recite “Here we are. We are in the dark.” Anticipate God’s presence there with you. Take a slow deep calming breath.

Talk about dark, I’d asked my brother to send me a video of the lights they put up at the farm. He did.

His hand was very smooth and steady as he panned from the outline of the well house, to the angel high up on the granary, past the candles in the bedrooms and the Santa above the garage doors. Then it got really dark. I heard him walking. The steps got well into the double digits. I realized he must be walking down the laneway ... perhaps now he’s about by where we had the treehouse. I remembered the really soft black dirt and the sharp pinkish crushed rock. And then his arms reached up to the heavens and ta-dah, there was the star he’d made years ago up on top of a grain bin. Mostly gold bulbs it looks like this year. Nice.

Maybe it wasn’t the “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn that’s predicted to occur this solstice. But we’re reminded that the God who made all things and called them good also created the darkness, which can be all around and within us — making for a fine backdrop upon which to inscribe your own light of distinction.