a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

pastoral prayer for The Longest Night

If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light 
around me turn to night,” darkness is not dark to you, O 
Lord; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to 
you are both alike.    (psalm 139)

And yet we stumble, O Lord. The night is long, morning seems far off. Though you can see, we cannot. And yet into our uncertainty, into our longing, into our apathy, into our desperation, you come again, taking on flesh to share our life, raising us to oneness with you.

As the light slowly returns to our part of the earth, we pray too for your light to shine gently, bringing us into the glory of your day. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me 
will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 
We yearn for this light, for life abundant and for joy to come in the morning.

Even as we await the lengthening of days, we remember those for whom the days begin to shorten. For those celebrating your incarnation at the height of summer, soon to slide toward winter’s chill. For those whose joy will be short-lived, as loneliness returns after the parties and presents are cleared away. For those whose gaze has turned toward light eternal, and for those who will walk in the valley of the shadow of death.

… (silence)

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; all for your love’s sake.

We pray in the name of the One whose cries in the manger echo our own, even Jesus Christ our Lord. amen.


Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL. Last paragraph (“keep watch…”) from the Book of Common Prayer. 

In the Now: Blue Christmas/Longest Night

Some of us had Blue Christmas services this past week. Others of us still have that coming up. Some of us have Longest Night services. Whatever we call it, this service is often the balm to a hurting soul–offering space in the midst of a cheery and hustle-and-bustle season to acknowledge grief, pain, or other un-holiday-ish feelings.

What do you do in this kind of service? What format do you use? What liturgy? Do you have favorite resources? Did you write anything new this year? Do you want to write something–perhaps a litany or a prayer acknowledging the difficulty of the season, or a call to worship that leaves room for both celebration and sadness, or a dedication of our memories instead of a dedication of an offering?

To get us started, we have a new hymn written by Carlos Wilton, pastor at Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church in Point Pleasant Beach NJ.

Comfort Your People, Lord
A Hymn for Blue Christmas Services
(Tune: “The Coventry Carol”)
text by Carlos Wilton

O Lord, we bring to you, this day,
Hearts that are raw with pain:
For sorrow has companioned us,
And in our lives does reign.
You promise to make all things new:
Comfort your people, Lord.

Would that we could turn back the clock
And for one precious hour
Reach out, clasp hands, and touch again
Love’s fragile, with’ring flower!
You cherish all times in your hands:
Comfort your people, Lord.

All through our lives we’ve trusted you
To be most fair and kind:
Though, in the dark night of the soul,
Anger enthralls our minds.
For freedom you have set us free:
Comfort your people, Lord.

We have not always trusted that
Fairness has been your way.
Too soon it’s seemed to watch our dreams
Float up and fly away.
For good, all things together work:
Comfort your people, Lord.

My soul, why are you so downcast:
Caught up in grief’s malaise?
We trust the day will soon arrive
When we will sing God’s praise!
Not Yuletide mirth, but Easter joy:
We ask this gift, O Lord.

Copyright © 2011, by Carlos E. Wilton. All rights reserved. Permission is given for congregations to reproduce the text of this hymn in worship bulletins, as long as the copyright information is included.