December 21 is the winter solstice in 2018. Due to the earth’s tilt, the sun is at its most southern point in the sky in the United States. It also means that on that day there is less sunlight and more darkness than any other day of the year. All the outdoor holiday lights people put up seek to offset the darkness. Similarly, people can face personal darkness in the midst of what is meant to be a joyous, bright time of year. For some it might be the stress of holiday schedules and expectations. Or maybe they received a diagnosis that is raising questions about the quality of their health going forward. With Christmas and New Year centered on family get-togethers, it can be a tough time for those who have lost loved ones. Some others might be dealing with a divorce or shattered relationship or are concerned about their job situation or are just having financial problems. Others yet may be concerned for someone they know in such a struggle. Churches know that some of their members and others in the community are dealing with sadness, concern and anxiety for one reason or another, or that some know of people going through a difficult time. That’s why the FOCUS Churches are providing a Blue Christmas service: Blue Christmas Worship Service 7:00 pm The First Church Albany Blue Christmas services, or Longest Night services as they are sometimes called, offer a recognition that in the midst of a season of joy, there are those who find themselves in places of darkness, or worry about someone in such a place. In fact, Longest Night services are held on or around the winter solstice — when daylight is fleeting and darkness lingers. This service will offer prayer, reflection, communion, and candle lighting that acknowledges the darkness, expresses trust in God’s caring presence and can offer a glimmer of light to offset the darkness. If you or someone you know is struggling with times of gloom and darkness, come and express the struggle and receive some healing grace. Rev. Bill Schram began his ministry with Westminster in March and is the current Interim Minister. Bill attended McCormick seminary in Chicago and met his wife Jenny there. They have served as co-pastors and in separate positions. He has served churches in urban, near suburb, small town, county seat towns in various positions such as pastor, associate pastor, interim pastor, and hospital chaplain. He and Jenny have two natural and one foster daughter. Delightfully, they now have a granddaughter to enjoy.