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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Longest Night's journey into Christmas

Icicles (Photo by Barfooz)
For those who are not having a holly jolly Christmas season, there is hope yet.  More and more churches will be hosting a Longest
Night (or Blue Christmas) service in order to help with these less-than-merry feelings.

What is unique about a Blue Christmas service?  Tiffany Vail, writing for the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, explains:  These services have a more quiet, somber feel than a traditional Christmas worship service.  Scripture, music and meditations or sermons focus on the comfort God offers during dark times.  Candles often play a significant part; they are lit in memory of people or events, or utilized in conjunction with prayers and readings.The comforting aspects of these rituals offer relief not only to those who are deeply grieving, but also to those who are feeling anxious and stressed.

Daniel Benedict, writing for The United Methodist Church General Board of Discipleship, explains that there is an "interesting convergence" between the Longest Night Service and the traditional feast day for Saint Thomas the Apostle.  He suggests that some connections can be made "between Thomas's struggle to believe the tale of Jesus' resurrection, the long nights just before Christmas, and the struggle with darkness
and grief faced by those living with loss."

Ministry Matters presents the following tips for leading Longest Night Services:  use Advent hymns with minor chords and hopeful lyrics; emphasize that Advent is not just a pre-Christmas celebration, but is also a time to grapple with human suffering; don't preach for too long (or at all), but instead focus upon communal forms of worship; and prioritize prayer.


Copyright December 16, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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