Here is a complete worship liturgy for a Longest Night (sometimes called a “Blue Christmas”) service. In a few days (or sooner), I will be posting prayers that can be used during the “Candlelighting and Prayers” portion. As for music suggestions, I recommend music from the Taize Community and/or other types of quiet, contemplative music. I have included the titles of hymns that I have used in the past, but you may certainly use other selections that fit your community best.
THE LONGEST NIGHT – A SERVICE FOR WHOLENESS AND PEACE
Music for Gathering
Words of Welcome
Welcome to this “Longest Night” service. The name of this service comes from the season – tonight is actually the longest night of the year. But the name, “Longest Night”, also describes the feeling that a number of us have during this season. In the long, dark winter nights, memories of past experiences and the pain of present experiences and situations can become overwhelming. For some, Christmas Day is the most difficult. For others, Christmas Eve, or New Year’s Eve, or the beginning of another lonely year. In this service, we invite you to listen. We invite you to pray. We invite you to sing. We invite you to meditate upon the pain and anguish you may bring – and we invite you to offer your pain to the Christ child. And we trust that you will find hope and comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
Call to Worship (2 Cor. 1:4b-5 – NRSV)
God consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.
Song of Invocation (Suggestion: “Come and Fill our Hearts”)
Call to Prayer
Jesus said: Ask and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Friends in Christ, God knows our needs before we ask, and in our asking prepares us to receive the gift of grace. Let us open our lives to God’s healing presence and confess to God in silence whatever has wounded us or brought injury to others, that we may receive mercy, healing, and wholeness, and become for each other ministers of God’s grace.
Prayers for Mercy (after a time of silent prayer…)
Merciful God, you know us inside and out. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name.
Assurance of Acceptance (Based on Isaiah 49:14-16)
There are times when all we see is the darkness; we may cry out, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” But, God says to us, “I shall never forget you! I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands!”
By the grace of Christ we are accepted and loved by God. Amen.
Prayer for Illumination
Gracious God, nourish us tonight with your Word, that we may be strengthened and encouraged through Jesus the Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen.
Lessons from Scripture
Psalm 42:1-5; Matthew 11:28-30; Romans 8:31-35, 37-39 (OR – Psalm 13; Romans 8:18-27; Philippians 4:10-14)
Candlelighting and Prayer
Following each time of prayer, you are invited to come forward to light a candle as we sing.
Prayers for Healing
Response (Suggested music for the Response: “A Candle Is Burning” – one verse at a time. This is a song by Sandra Dean (1986) and is found in Voices United, the hymn book of the United Church of Canada. The tune is “Away in a Manger”.)
Prayers for Guidance and Support
Prayers for Comfort and Strength
Call to the Lord’s Table
The Sacrament of Communion
Printed in the bulletin: (We celebrate an open communion. Baptized children and adults of any Christian denomination are invited to share with us in the bread and cup. Gluten free bread and unfermented grape juice is employed.)
Closing Song (Suggested: Silent Night, Holy Night)
Blessing and Dismissal
May the God of Grace heal you, body and soul. May your pain cease. May your strength increase. May your fears and worries be released. And may blessings, love, and joy surround you – now and always. Amen.