Sometimes the holiday season can be too much overload: the lights, the decorations, the festivities – the joy. For some, this time of year is anything but celebratory and joyful. While we are assured of the birth of our Savior, some suffer without the birth of their desired child. While we proclaim the beauty of the holy family, some can only remember the difficult relationship they have with their own family. For some, Christmas is not jolly, and it can't end quickly enough.
The Longest Night Worship Service is for all those who feel the darkness more than the light during the Christmas season. It’s for those with questions and concerns, those struggling to make sense of our world and their lives. It’s a service for all people who find it difficult to find peace at a time when we herald the Prince of Peace. It’s also for their friends and loved ones, who are journeying alongside someone who finds the season cold and lonely.
The name of the service – Longest Night – comes from its proximity to the winter solstice: the longest night of the year. Yet the name also serves as a testimony for all those experiencing their own season of extended darkness. It’s a service of gathering for all those who think they walk this difficult journey alone.
I personally invite you to join us for this simple service. It will take place on Wednesday, December 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. Our time together will include Christmas carols, a few comforting scripture readings, the sacrament of communion, and I will offer a brief meditation. There also will be an extended time of prayer to lift to God our yearnings for healing and wholeness for ourselves and our world. Anyone who would like to light a candle in memory of a loved one, or as a form of prayer for light to shine in the darkness, will be invited to do so. After the service, our labyrinth will be set up on the front lawn of the church, for anyone seeking an additional opportunity for quiet, contemplative reflection.
You are invited to come just as you are. Come with your doubts and pains, your questions and frustrations. Come and lay them before the God who truly is Emmanuel, God with Us, even if we cannot believe it right now. In all these things, we will be reminded that we are not alone. Christ is with us, and we are here for one another. This is the true joy of Christmas – that God became human to be with us, and that we can bring all of who we are to God.
On this night, we will place our concerns in the arms of our compassionate God, who we know is with us, even when the night is the longest. It is our hope that it will be a time of grace and peace for all who seek the Light of the presence of the God who is with us always.