Blue Christmas or Longest Night Ritual of Prayer and Candle Lighting.

A table is set with candles artfully arranged as you choose. Some candles are lit before the service and others will be lit by those in attendance at the designated time. At the chosen place in the liturgy the following is inserted into the order of worship:

NAMING OUR BROKENNESS IN PRAYER AND RITUAL

Tonight we come, people who have been there. We have been the recipients of difficult news, experiencing it in the core of our body, the pit of our stomach, the rending of our heart. It may be recent or long ago, but the decorations and merriment of holidays going on around us recall and accentuate the sadness we feel.

Some are bereft; recalling the faces no longer present around the dinner table, some have been touched by a recent accident or new diagnosis for themselves or a loved one. Some are enduring a slow but sure lessening of abilities, noticing a stumbling or faltering step, failing vision that dims the sunlight and intensifies the darkness.

Some have lost a sense of place or purpose, a pink slip bodes of empty days and bank accounts, others are disoriented with a new address in an unfamiliar neighborhood, school or place of work.

Some come with shattered dreams, loss of plans and possibility in the experience of tragedy. Some come feeling loss with even a welcome and expected change that also brings uncertainty for the future.

And so we come to light candles, candles that tell of our longing for healing in this season of waiting. The candles we light tonight bring to mind the themes of Advent. Hope. Peace. Joy. Love. Those familiar themes are not only for the individual weeks of the season, but for all of Advent and for all the days of our lives. For we are in need of the gifts they bring, a sense of wholeness in the midst of change and uncertainty, healing for our brokenness.

LITANY FOR HEALING

We look for hope in the face of loss. Hearts are touched by sadness of empty times and empty spaces in our midst. Fill our hearts with hope for tomorrow, O God, that we may be healed.

We look for peace in the ashes of communities. Homes and public places, cities, countryside, entire nations lie in ruin, torn apart by the violence and distrust, tribalism and war. Teach us the ways of peace, O God, that we may be healed.

We look for joy in place of sorrow. Days of mourning remembered, tables with meager offerings in lean times, celebrations where loved ones are absent. Renew our sense of purpose, O God, that we may be healed.

We look for love in the emptiness of our lives. Feeling forgotten, that no one cares, that people are apathetic to the concerns of others. Remind us of your care. Reconnect us. Show us that we are part one of another, O God, that we may be healed. Amen.

LIGHTING CANDLES FOR HEALING

Come now, to light a candle for healing for the loss or concern you bear tonight. Those who wish to do so may name their concern aloud as a request for prayer.

As music plays softly, people come forward to light candles. When people return to their pews we will keep silence that will end when a bell is rung after 3 minutes.

The service then continues with prayer, selected readings and song.