Brightly colored lights, Christmas carols, gifts and family get-togethers are all part and parcel of the traditional “joyful” holiday season.
But for many, this time of year may feel anything but joyful.
“It’s a time of great darkness literally and figuratively for many,” said Pastor Hugh Hendrickson, who has presided over the Colbert and Comer United Methodist congregations for the past three years.
It is this thought that is spurring a growing tradition during Christmas, called the “Service of the Longest Night,” a time to acknowledge the sadness and darkness present in many lives, and to offer affirmation and hope.
“We are using that symbolism in this special service to reach out to those for whom this is a sad time of year, for whatever reason,” Hendrickson said. “We want them to know they are not alone, that there is the hope of Christ and a light in the darkness.”
Jones Chapel United Methodist pastor Richard Huycke agrees. This is the second year his church has held a “Service of the Longest Night” set to coincide with the Winter Solstice, which occurs this year on Dec. 21.
The service is built around a simple framework to allow those who are grieving – whether it’s the death of a loved one, someone who’s away in the military, a life change, a job loss, or who are simply overwhelmed by life’s struggles.
Jones Chapel United Methodist pastor Richard Huycke (L) and Colbert and Comer UM pastor Hugh Hendrickson plan to offer their congregations something a little different this year — a service on the “longest night” filled with encouragement and affirmation for those who are struggling with heartache and loss during the Christmas season.
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