A Service of Worship for The Longest Night
December 21st, 2020
Each holiday season, families and friends look forward to celebrations and gatherings of all kinds: Thanksgiving dinners, Hanukkah services, Diwali festivals, Love Feasts, Candlelight Christmas Eve services, star lightings, and many others. During these joyful moments, it is also important to remember the many individuals and families who have been touched by grief in the previous year, who may find the joy of this holiday season difficult to hold. For this reason, some traditions have adopted a “Longest Night Service” held on or near winter solstice, a day on which darkness covers our part of the world the longest for the year. Grief, too, can feel like a long night.
2020 has been an unprecedented year of loss for our country and world. We are grieving the loss of loved ones, a fragmented economic security, the absence of human touch, and a holiday season, which will look like no other we have known. There is no path around grief. The greatest gift to ourselves and one another is to allow ourselves to walk through it. We must give ourselves space to lament our losses and acknowledge our pain. Healing and hope are found on this path.
FaithHealth Chaplaincy and Education has developed an online Longest Night Service to provide a space to honor our collective and individual grief.
A Service of Worship for The Longest Night
Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. — Rumi
Prelude Chaplain Blake Tickle
Welcome Chaplain Emily Viverette
Call to Worship & Invocation Mrs. Syveria Hauser
Leader: When we are joyful and celebrating, when we are full of fun and laughter,
All: Our Maker welcomes us.
Leader: When we are angry, when people let us down and make us sad,
All: Love welcomes us.
Leader: When we are tired, when we need to stop and curl up and rest,
All: Peace welcomes us.
Leader: We are glad to meet you here,
All: Community welcomes us.
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 43:1-7 Chaplain Mark Hollar
Liturgy of Light and Remembering
Lighting the First Candle Chaplain Tiffany Seaford
Leader: This first candle we light to remember those whom we have loved and lost. We pause to remember their name, their face, their voice, and the memory that binds them to us this season. This year all of our families have been especially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We honor those who have died from COVID-19 in our hospital with a purple ribbon on the wreath before me. Let us pause now to remember their lives.
We give thanks for our team’s best efforts to support and serve each of these individuals and their families as we remember their lives. May the circular form of this wreath remind us of the ways this pandemic has bound us to one another and the unity that must endure and grow among us
All: May hope surround those who have loved and lost. Amen.
Lighting the Second Candle Chaplain Germán Morell
Leader: This second candle we light to redeem the pain of loss; the loss of relationships, the loss of jobs, the loss of friends who have moved away, the loss of health, the loss of dreams. We pause to gather up the pain of the past and offer it to our Creator, asking that from those hands we might receive the gift of peace.
All: Refresh, restore and renew us, O Creator, and lead us into your future. Amen.
Lighting the Third Candle Chaplain Shakeisha Gray
Leader: This third candle we light to remember ourselves this season. We pause and remember these past weeks and months; the uncertainty, the waiting, the struggles, the poignancy of reminiscing, and the longed-for hugs and handshakes of family, friends and even strangers. We pause to remember and give thanks for all the support we have received. Let us pray.
All: Let us remember that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. Amen.
Lighting the Fourth Candle Chaplain China K. Evans
Leader: The fourth candle is lit to remember the gift of hope—hope that comes from all the ways we are accompanied in times of darkness. Hope that reminds us that even though life is difficult and painful, it also holds out promises of joy and peace. In this season of light, may we remember that we are not alone—we have company in our struggles and our joy. Light shines in the darkness and cannot be overcome. Let us pray.
All: Holy Love, we thank You for Your presence dwelling among us and in us, and Your hope which never fails us. Amen.
Lighting Our Candles of Remembrance & Gratitude
At this time, you are invited to light a candle in memory of a loved one, to mark a loss, as a petition of prayer, in thanksgiving.
O Holy Night (Text: Adolphe Adam) Chaplain Blake Tickle
The Blessing for the Longest Night by Jan Richardson Chaplain Emma Johnston
Benediction Chaplain Angela Beard
Postlude Chaplain Blake Tickle
The Uses of Sorrow
Someone I loved once gave me
A box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
That this, too, was a gift.
— Mary Oliver