What is a Longest Night Service?

Traditionally held on the day when the time of darkness is the longest of the year (typically December 21st), this service provides a space and place for people who find the holidays less than jolly. The need for such a service was recognized among pastors of many denominations as distressed parishioners revealed how the holidays remind them that their life is not perfect or their family is not perfect. In these circumstances, the holidays can make many people feel depressed and they avoid the holiday events, even church services. They feel put off or put down, or even come to think that there is something wrong with them because they are not filled with “Christmas Cheer.” Especially as contemporary marketing of the season increasingly focuses on a “perfect” Christmas when “everyone” is happy, every family is wonderful, and every experience joyful, pastors have felt the need to provide a service that acknowledges that this season does not magically remove grief, hurt, depression, anxiety and other real problems.

During this service the often hurting human condition is recognized. Grief, hurt, depression, anxiety and problems are acknowledged. It strives to affirm that there is these real feelings. At the same time, the good news of God-with-us is affirmed; and the light that shines in the darkness and is never overcome by it, still shines. This is a service where tears of all kinds are collected by God’s own gentle hand, and we each have the opportunity to offer to one another love, hope and peace.

 

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