The Longest Night Service

Dear Starmount Friends,
During this time of the year there are many events that mark the passage of time.  Last Sunday in worship we spoke about one of these events, the annual downtown Christmas Parade.  Other events are not so public and occur in our homes, like decorating for the holidays, bringing home our Christmas tree, and hanging our stockings.  Almost everywhere we look, we are reminded of how many shopping days there are until the big day.  Just before Christmas comes, we gather in worship here at Starmount to mark the end of Advent and the beginning of the Christmas celebration.
However, just before that special Christmas Eve night, there is another event that marks the passage of time.  This is an astronomical event called the “winter solstice.”  This day marks the period when we have the shortest period of daylight hours and the longest period of darkness.  It is quite literally the longest night of the year.
This year, Starmount will join with many other faith communities that hold a special service just before Christmas called, “The Longest Night.”  Sometimes these services are also called a “Blue Christmas” service or a “Service of Hope and Remembrance.”  In them, we acknowledge, as the Body of Christ, that there are many for whom the holiday season is not a joyful time.  Many of us are lonely, mourning, or feeling alienated from family or friends.  Some people experience depression and sadness and yet often feel compelled to “put on a happy face” for others, denying our true feelings.  Some may be celebrating the holidays for the first time following the loss of a loved one.
In this service of worship, we are all invited to be our true selves and to allow our true feelings to be expressed, trusting that this caring, Christian community is a safe place to feel our hurts and sorrows. This service gives us space to share and time to live with all the feelings we have.  As we worship, we embrace and claim the darkness that is present both in the world and in our own lives.  As people who are familiar with the darkness, we also know that we gather to be illumined by the light of the Christ Child this Christmas season.  May the Christ Child, born in a lowly stable, himself an outcast and marginal, bring light, comfort, peace and joy this holiday season.
We will hold “The Longest Night” service on Sunday, Dec. 23rd at 4:00pm. It will be a brief, intimate, and contemplative service held in the chapel filled with readings and music.  We hope you will join us.
In Christ,
Charlie Lee

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