This service is typically scheduled around the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. The service usually includes advent hymns of hope in the presence of mystery, lighting of the Advent wreath, liturgy and prayer. Longest Night, or Blue Christmas services acknowledge the anxiety, pain, grief and suffering in the world while offering the comfort, love and grace of God to remind us we are not alone.
Surely this year, in light of the Pandemic, racial injustice, and political uncertainties, more people are experiencing deep anxiety, sadness, loss of loved ones, loss of routine, loss of the ability to hold traditional gatherings. These feelings are normal reactions to the uncertainty that confronts us daily. For some the distress becomes overwhelming, leading to increased rates of suicide, substance abuse, domestic and child abuse due to the struggles of job loss, isolation and depression. It is more important than ever to recognize our distress and to spread hope throughout the world with a service of consolation and hope.
To offer consolation, grace and comfort, many congregations are creatively offering appropriately social distanced in-person services following public health guidelines, or conducting services on-line.
The Health and Wellness Team is offering you an alternative liturgy for use by individuals or household groups or for guided meditation. "Exquisite Darkness: A Winter Solstice Meditation" is adapted from the original Exquisite Darkness: Winter Solstice Service which was created by Ashley Goff (UCC), Minister for Spiritual Formation, and Rob Passow, Director of Music, at Church of the Pilgrims (PCUSA) in Washington, D.C. for Church of the Pilgrims’ first winter solstice service in 2012.
The individual meditation offers words of hope, rest and renewal for you to read as often as you like.
The guided meditation, with instructions for the leader, is designed to be used in a virtual space such as on-line in a zoom meeting.
We pray this liturgy will help you recognize what needs rest in your life, what needs to hibernate while awaiting the light, hope in the midst of darkness, and the light that is to come.
Matthew 11:28-29: 28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Peggy Matteson is a Commissioned Minister of Congregational Health
Debbie Ringen supports the Conference vision to make God’s love and justice real through wellness ministry at the Conference and local church level. In addition to providing resources, educational workshops, blogs and networking opportunities, she is...