In the calendar of 2,000 years ago, December 25 was the Longest Night of the year and it was proclaimed the Winter Solstice. Today — Saturday, December 21 – is the actual date of the Winter Solstice. Some Christian churches offer “Blue Christmas” or “Longest Night services, as explained in this NPR segment.
At Princeton UMC, we acknowledged the darkness in life at a Longest Night Service, held this year on Tuesday, December 17. Pastor Jenny Smith Walz and the PrincetonUMC’s Stephen Ministers led a service of reflection, minor and modal music, and prayer – with several times of comforting silence.
Each worshipper received an origami star (made by Hyosang Park) and placed in the bar in back of 28 flickering candles. The star represented the mix of feelings – happy and sad. And the contrast between the joy of the Baby’s birth with the cruelty of Herod.
When the bar was raised, the lights behind it turned on and sparkled. It was as if the stars and are prayers were lifted to heaven.
Here are some United Methodist Church resources about the Longest Night.
An episode of Chuck Knows Church
A secular book about the winter solstice