Today is the darkest day of the year.

On 21 December 2018, my wife and I officially closed the church that we had planted over 12 years before, and moved my office out of the building it used. Words could not ever adequately tally what we gave to partner with God in building that church over those twelve years. So, to say it was a hard day, would be a massive understatement. I was also at the time having therapy to work through the grief I was feeling, which ended up being more about the impact my childhood was having on me now. I wrote this, on that day, to help me process what was happening.

Thoughts On Closing a Church

“Today is the darkest day of the year.

I wonder, has the darkness become so familiar that it has moved from foe to friend?

Darkness has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember:

As a child, the loneliness of the dark became a companion in my own loneliness.

Hours were spent hiding behind cloaks in darkened wardrobes and tunnelling to the depths of the worlds beneath my bed.

I never found Narnia on the other side of that darkness.

Maybe that is what I was looking for.

The darkness of night never felt dark enough under the moon’s spell of light.

So I would wander into the pitch black dimension of the forest behind my home, ironically lit with the vividness of my imagination.

Was the darkness friend or foe?

The memories are fond, but each one finished with fear drawing me away from the dark and into the light.

Whatever the case, the familiarity enabled me to step into the darkness of the lives and stories of others with ease.

Stories of childhood accidents, trauma, and abuse.

Stories of betrayal, unceasing pain, and grief.

Stories of shattered dreams and haunting ambitions.

Narnia never seemed to be at the back of those wardrobes either.

Hours spent searching the darkness for the lost and vulnerable, helping the wounded hold on to life, and painting a picture with my vivid imagination of what this dark forest looks like in the light.

Years of sacrifice and compassion towards others, driven by the small boy of my past who is haunted by loneliness.

As hard as it was, the darkness gave me purpose, worth; it provided the space for me to reflect the One in whose image I was made.

As others rushed away from their darkness I spent a decade rushing towards it.

Although fear always drew me back to the light, if I’m honest, it is in the dark that I felt most at home.

Today is the darkest day of the year and is supposed to be the end of the darkest season of my ministerial career.

‘Good things are ahead.’

‘God blesses his faithful servants like you.’

‘This has all been preparation for something better.’

‘God has great things in store for you.’

Say the voices of those calling from the safety of the light.

Do they not know?

As exhaustion rips my body to shreds I push to rise before the sun so I can rest in the pre-day darkness of morning.

To me, darkness is sacred space.

Darkness is holy.

Is it friend or foe?

I am still not sure.

What I do know is that as the seasons turn on the peak darkness of today I am grieving the fading darkness more than celebrating the rising light.

As I struggle to imagine a world without darkness I find myself not wanting to.

The world seems to think it is time to work in the light, but there is so much left to do in the dark.

Maybe this time I can find a few others who feel at home in the dark to join me.

In the meantime, tomorrow is not the darkest day of the year, and it’s coming.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you are closing a church and feeling alone, feel free to get in touch with me – it is nice to have friends who know. If you feel at home in the dark like me, I would love to chat about how we can keep revealing Jesus in these places.

Grace and peace.

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