Longest Night Service

​The Longest Night Service has been an important part of my Advent since I first attended one in the early 1990s. Soon after I started hosting it at the church I was serving.

It is traditionally held on the longest night of the year; hence the name. It can be held at other times and is sometimes called a "Blue Christmas" service.

The invitation is for those who need silence and an honoring of their sadness. For some, it touches them because of a grief in their lives. For others, it touches them because of conflict around them or within them. And for some, it is a chance to take a break from the enforced merriment of the season. Personally, I have needed that time of quiet reflection when the world tells me I'm supposed to be shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping, and basically doing everything possible to avoid coming face-to-face with God.

The service has singing - quiet hymns for Advent and Christmas - and prayer. And Scripture - plenty of Scripture. When you hear a Scripture reading that touches on your need, then you can come to the Table and light a candle. I always include Psalm 130, because of a personal story. Young Clayton (7 years old) died one January, after a long hospitalization for aplastic anemia. I remember visiting him on Christmas Day. I remember his mother's strength through his illness, and the horrible grief of his family and his school when he died. He died on a Sunday morning, and I scrapped my sermon that day and talked to the church about him - and had the church stand and say Psalm 130 together. Every year at the Longest Night Service I read Psalm 130 and I light a candle for Clayton. Usually I light a candle for me, too: "O Israel, hope in the Lord."

In 2016, the winter solstice in Omaha is at 4:44 am on Wednesday, December 21. That means the night of Tuesday, December 20 is the longest night of the year. We will observe the Longest Night Service on Tuesday, December 20 at 6:30 pm. If you need some quiet, and the assurance that God is gently present while the world around us is mad, come pray with us. And light a candle or six.

Pastor Bob


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Sermon for December 18: Advent Peace
Sermon for December 11: Advent Joy
 

Comments

Andy Cook on Wednesday, 14 December 2016 15:55

Your quote "O Israel, hope in the Lord." got me to thinking about a line in a scripted drama that Lisa and I watch. The lead character has good reason to be insecure about his place in his world. He despairs. He's certainly guarded about making himself vulnerable to those that get close to him, if he would only allow it.

An acquaintance, that seems to truly care for him, is encouraging him to use counseling. The main character has expressed that there is no hope for him. The acquaintance continues to encourage the counseling. He's at least a little persuasive.

The main character thinks for a moment, then says "you have made me hope for hope, and perhaps that's enough to start for now".

I was struck by that idea, that some people feel such despair, that even hope seems unatainable. And, perhaps if we help them at least find hope for hope, that can be a start.

And, while not everyone interested in a Longest Day service may necessarily feel that hopeless, perhaps there are some, and perhaps a quiet time of contemplation in the presence of Christ will give them hope for hope.

Your quote "O Israel, hope in the Lord." got me to thinking about a line in a scripted drama that Lisa and I watch. The lead character has good reason to be insecure about his place in his world. He despairs. He's certainly guarded about making himself vulnerable to those that get close to him, if he would only allow it. An acquaintance, that seems to truly care for him, is encouraging him to use counseling. The main character has expressed that there is no hope for him. The acquaintance continues to encourage the counseling. He's at least a little persuasive. The main character thinks for a moment, then says "you have made me hope for hope, and perhaps that's enough to start for now". I was struck by that idea, that some people feel such despair, that even hope seems unatainable. And, perhaps if we help them at least find hope for hope, that can be a start. And, while not everyone interested in a Longest Day service may necessarily feel that hopeless, perhaps there are some, and perhaps a quiet time of contemplation in the presence of Christ will give them hope for hope.
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