December 21, 2020: The Longest Night
Longest Night Service (Blue Christmas)
Pastor Brad Beeman
Deacon Kathleen Charters
Pauline Olsen, electronic keyboard
Longest Night Worship Service
Announcement: You may wish to pause this video, to get a flashlight. You are invited to use a flashlight during this worship service.
Centering Music: Carol 221 “In the Bleak Midwinter”
Welcome – Deacon Kathleen
I am Deacon Kathleen Charters, of Trinity United Methodist Church. I welcome you to the Longest Night, also known as a Blue Christmas, worship service. This service is celebrated on December 21st, the longest night of the year. It acknowledges that, for many people, Christmas is a time of loneliness, sorrow, alienation, sadness. This service offers a way for people to claim those feelings and still feel surrounded by the compassionate love of God.
Call to Worship – Pastor Brad
Pastor Brad: Remember the messengers of faith you have known, rejoice, and give thanks for their witness.
Deacon Kathleen: We, too, will prepare the way of Christ; we will help to level the hills and valleys of life.
Pastor Brad: Hold one another in your hearts this day; pray that love may rule all your relationships.
Deacon Kathleen: We will weep with those who weep. We will rejoice with those who rejoice.
Pastor Brad: God will be with you wherever you go. Amen.
Carol 196 “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”
Opening Prayer – Pastor Brad
God of love and understanding, we gather here this evening to confront our pain in the midst of the world’s celebration. Help us know that you are present with us in all of our moods and feelings and seasons. Grant us a taste of the hope, peace, joy, and love that you promise to all of your people through the gift of your son Jesus. Amen.
Scripture Readings – Deacon Kathleen
Luke 14:15-24: This story offers hope for those who have no one to invite them. It reminds us that in God’s divine order, no one is excluded–all are invited.
Matthew 11:28-29: When burdens get piled on top of other burdens, the load can crush us. In his promise, Jesus offers us help to carry our burdens and responsibilities.
Revelation 7:15-17 and 21:1-7: Our present world is not how God wants things to be. Those who weep now will not weep later. In this new heaven and new earth, there will be no more need for tears.
Carol 218 “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”
Candle lighting – Pastor Brad and Deacon Kathleen
Pastor Brad: We light four candles tonight in honor of our loved ones. We light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories, and one for our love.
Deacon Kathleen: This candle represents our grief. We own the pain of losing loved ones, of dreams that go unfulfilled, of hopes that evaporate in despair. [Reader lights a candle; brief silence follows.]
Pastor Brad: This candle represents our courage. It symbolizes the courage to confront our sorrow, to comfort each other, to share our feelings honestly and openly with each other, and to dare to hope in the midst of pain. [Reader lights a candle; a brief silence follows.]
Deacon Kathleen: This candle represents our memories. For the times we laughed together, cried together, were angry with each other, or overjoyed with each other. We light this candle for the memories of caring and joy we shared. [Reader lights a candle; a brief silence follows.]
Pastor Brad: This candle represents our love. The love we have given, and the love we have received. The love that has gone unacknowledged and unfelt, and the love that has been shared in times of joy and sorrow. [Reader lights a candle; a brief silence follows.]
Deacon Kathleen: You are invited to turn on a flashlight to represent your burdens, griefs, sorrows, all those things that make Christmas a “blue” time for you. You may speak the name or the event if you wish to do so. After you have turned on your flashlight you may pray silently.
When people have had the opportunity to turn on their flashlight, the leader continues:
Pastor Brad: We light the Christ candle, remembering that Jesus Christ is always in the center of our lives. He hears our cries, he knows our hearts, and knowing all our thoughts and emotions, he offers us hope and healing. [Leader lights the Christ candle.]
Prayer – Deacon Kathleen
Let us pray.
Comforting God, wrap us in your presence in this time of remembrance. With these candles, help us find your light, a light that will guide us day by day, step by step, as we try to live life fully and wholly. We cherish the special ways in which we have been touched by our loved ones. We thank you for the gift their lives have been to us. Now comfort us, encourage us, empower us. Amen.
Carol 239 “Silent Night, Holy Night”
Benediction – Pastor Brad
Pastor Brad: Go in peace, knowing that the God whose love created this world, sent Jesus into the same world to be our friend, companion, and Savior. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out!
Deacon Kathleen: Thanks be to God. Amen.
Postlude: Carol 242 “Love Came Down at Christmas”