The Longest Night

A Service of Remembrance, Consolation, and Assurance

The Gathering

Our service will begin with fifteen minutes of contemplative music for healing. During this time you are invited to come forward and light votive candles as a visible sign of your prayer(s) of remembrance and hope.

Lighting Candles for Others, Ourselves, and Our World

Music for Healing

Hymn: “Jesus, Remember Me” PsH 217, SFL 168, SNC 143, WR 285

Call to worship (based on Isaiah 45:8)
O God, come to our assistance.
O Lord, hasten to help us.
Drop down the dew from above, O heavens,
and let the clouds rain justice.
Let the earth’s womb be opened,
and bring forth a Savior.

Hymn: “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” PH 5, PsH 341, TH 193, WR 232

O Christ our Lord, as in times past, not all those who were sick and suffering found their way to your side, but others have taken their hands, carried their bodies, or mentioned their names. So we, confident of your goodness and grace, bring others and ourselves to you. As in times past, you looked at the faith of friends and loved ones and let peace and healing be known. Look on our faith here tonight, even our little faith, and let your kingdom come. Amen.

—adapted from Prayers for Healing, A Wee Worship Book (© 1999 WGRG, Iona Community, Scotland. GIA Publications, All right reserved. Used by permission.)

Sung Confession: “Kyrie Eleison” WR  375, 377, PsH 258, SNC 52, 53, 54

Assurance of God’s Amazing Grace

The Proclamation

The Word of God for Others, Ourselves, and Our World
This is God’s Word, and it can be trusted.
Isaiah 40:1-11
Micah 5:2-5a
John 1:1-9,14

The Response

[Spoken, not included in bulletin]
Tonight we will have an intentional time for silence for others, for ourselves, and for our world. Silence often makes us feel uncomfortable; we are always seeking to fill those empty spaces with noise. But tonight we will use these moments of silence to remember those who are no longer with us and that which we have lost. We also hold on to the Old Testament promise “Be still and know that I am God.”

This is a time for reflection and for prayer, for openness and for listening.

If you have not yet had the opportunity to do so or would like to light other candles, you are invited to come forward during this time and light votive candles as visible signs of your prayers of remembrance and hope.

The pastors are also available to pray with you or to simply anoint you with oil as a reminder of God’s power and God’s grace. You are invited to come forward if you would like to be anointed; if you have anything specific for which you would like prayers, please share those requests when you come forward.

Let us enter into this silence, knowing that God’s presence surrounds us now and always.

Silence for Others, for Ourselves, and for Our World

Prayers for Others, for Ourselves, and for Our World
God of compassion, you have given us your own Son, Jesus Christ, to be for us the great physician, making the broken whole and overcoming even the darkness of death and despair with new life and hope. We thank you for the one who touched the untouchable, reached out to the dying, and brought healing and wholeness to those who had despaired of mending.

Touch our wounds, relieve our hurts, and restore us to wholeness of life, through this same Lord Jesus Christ. Set our troubled souls free, O Lord, from restlessness and anxiety. Uphold us by your strength. Anchor us upon the rock of your faithfulness. Give us your peace and power and so keep us that in all times of trouble and distress, we may know you hold us close.

Indeed, you are faithful, O God. You not only give us your word that can be trusted but you also lend us your ear for our comfort. Hear us now as we offer our prayers. Hear again, gracious God, the names of those people and places we hold dear and now present to you anew. [Silence]

Grant us, O God, the fullness of your promises. Where we have been weak, grant us your strength; where we have been confused, grant us your guidance; where we have been distraught, grant us your comfort; and in all times and circumstances grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

The Sending Out

Hymn: “Comfort, Comfort Now My People” PH 3, PsH 194, SFL 121, TH 197, WR 155

Jesus Christ is the light of the world,
the light no darkness can overcome.
Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening,
and the day is almost over.
Let your light scatter the darkness
and illumine your people.

A Franciscan Blessing
May God bless you with discomfort at half-truths, easy answers, and superficial relationships, so that you will live deeply and from the heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and the exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those in pain, so that you will reach out your hand to them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with just enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this old world, so that you will do those things that others say cannot be done.


A Bulletin Note

As A Home in the Heart of the City we seek to be a community where the needs of people meet the power of God. That is our hope for this night. Tonight is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, and we recognize that for many the holidays can be long. While there is much merry-making going on, we realize that losses in our lives can take much of the joy out of this season.

Tonight we intend to recognize the real darkness that exists in our lives and in the world. At the same time we hope that glimpses of light might shine through just as the stars pierce a dark, cold winter night. We welcome God’s presence with us here tonight and always. May the candlelight, the music, the prayers, the Word of God, the silence, the communion of saints, and the community gathered here comfort and inspire you.

At two different times of the service, during the music for healing as we open and during the silence following God’s Word, you are invited to go forward in the sanctuary and light votive candles to illumine your own prayers and our world. As you leave the service, you are invited to take with you a candle from the table in the narthex so that a light of hope and remembrance may continue to shine in your home.

As you exit there will also be pastors who will pray with you personally if you wish. They will be on your left in the church parlor and on your right in our chapel as you leave. We’ve also included in our bulletin tonight a list of community resources that are available to you, along with an opportunity for you to write your own prayer requests allowing our pastors to pray with and for you throughout this season.

May the peace of Christ be with you tonight and always!

Reformed Worship 81 © September 2006, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.