Christmas Day

Our Longest Night: 

A Service of Hope at Christmas Time

© 2009 Quentin Chin; permission given to churches for one time use.  All publishing rights reserved.

A “Blue Christmas” Service prepared by the Rev. Quentin Chin, member of Church on the Hill (UCC) in Lenox, MA, and Interim Minister of the United Methodist Church of Lenox, MA.  This service was used as an ecumenical service in Lenox on December 13, 2009, and included Episcopal, Roman Catholic, United Methodist and UCC congregations.

 

Opening Words

            The Uses of Sorrow

            (In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

            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

 

Unison Gathering Prayer

 

Your compassion for us overflows, O God. 

We are facing our longest night. 

We come burdened with sorrow, loneliness, and sadness. 

We come seeking a place to set them down;

a place where our words will be heard and our feelings honored. 

We need a place where we can drop our masks of good cheer

so our tears can flow freely

and our faces can wear the cares of all that we are carrying. 

Be among us this night, O God. 

Let your compassion heal us in this moment.

Comfort us.  Strengthen us.  Care for us.  Be Christ to us.  Amen.

 

Hymn:

 

Readings:

Lamentations 3:1-3, 19-26;      Matthew 5:3-12a

 

Words of Comfort

 

Silent Prayer and Reflection

 

A Time for Comfort

 Use this time to light candles, be anointed, or receive a prayer. 


Litany (based upon Psalm 13)

How long, O Lord; will You ignore me forever?

How long will You hide Your face from me?

How long will I have cares on my mind, grief in my heart all day?

How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

 

Deliver me, O God.

Look at me, answer me, O Lord, my God!

Restore the luster to my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

lest my enemy say, "I have overcome them,"

my foes exult when I totter.

 

Deliver me, O God.

But I trust in Your faithfulness,

my heart will exult in Your deliverance.

I will sing to the Lord, who has been good to me. 

Deliver me, O God.

 

Hymn

 

Unison Collect

 

Generous and gracious God,

we look to you for compassion

and thank you for your presence this night. 

Overwhelmed by our burdens we easily forget

that you never leave us alone

and that your steadfast love for us never falters. 

By coming together we find assurance and comfort

that we do not suffer this longest night alone. 

You have given us strength to live through this night. 

Turn us to reach out to those whose night is also long. 

Grant that we may be your healing presence in their lives

by bringing them your compassion and comfort

that will assure them that they do not suffer alone.  Amen.

Closing Words

 

To be alive – is Power –

Existence – in itself –

Without a further function –

Omnipotence – Enough –

To be alive – and Will!

‘Tis able as God –

The Maker – of Ourselves – be what –

Such being Finitude!

                                                     Emily Dickinson

 

Notes on the Service

 

Opening Words

The Uses of Sorrow by Mary Oliver from her collection Thirst (published by Beacon Press, 2006)

Closing Words

To Be Alive (677) by Emily Dickinson from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson (published by Little, Brown and Company, 1961)

 

This is a service for those who feel at odds with or estranged from the general feeling of joy and happiness typically associated with this time of year.  These may be people who have suffered a personal loss:  death of a loved one, divorce, illness, or job loss.

 

The service seeks to comfort them by reminding them they are not alone and that their feelings are honored.

 

Worshipers should have an opportunity to take part in at least one healing ritual, such as lighting a candle or praying with someone.

 

The music should keep with the contemplative nature of the service.

 

Suggested Hymns from NCH or Pilgrim Hymnal

  • Precious Lord
  • Balm in Gilead
  • Abide with Me
  • If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee
  • Nobody Knows the Trouble I See
  • Sweet Hour of Prayer
  • The Lord’s My Shepherd

 

From Sing! Prayer and Praise

              There is Peace  no. 90

              Where are You, God  no. 175

              Star Child  no. 174

              Open My Eyes/Abre Mis Ojos  no. 161

 

SECTION MENU
CONTACT INFO

Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
216-736-3869
blains@ucc.org