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. 

confession: you know us

All: God, you know us inside out, when we lie down and when we rise. Your knowledge is so complete and wonderful, we can never comprehend it. But that doesn’t stop us from believing we have it all figured out. Forgive our arrogance and misplaced pride. You are everywhere present. Whether we find ourselves in the depths of despair or the heights of heaven, you are there. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to confine you to one day of the week, one place in the future, one holy book, or one favorite pew. Forgive us when we ignore your call, and when we try to hide from your gaze. Forgive us when we act as if you cannot see, when we restrict your love to our understanding, and when we claim that your presence is just for some.


One: God, you look on us with love, no matter who we are or where we have been.
All: We count blessings like grains of sand, and when we come to the end, still we will be with you. Silence in us any voice but your own, and guide us as we walk your way. Amen.

dedication: you know…

Submitted by Rev. Martha Spong, North Yarmouth Congregational Church, North Yarmouth Maine.


O God, you know the condition of our bank accounts as well as you know the condition of our minds and hearts. We can’t hide anything from you. Receive our gifts and use them for your good purposes in the world. Guide us to be your servants; may we listen when you speak! Amen.

illumination: hoping from the inside out

Submitted by Rev. Martha Spong, pastor at North Yarmouth Congregational Church, North Yarmouth Maine.


Holy One, you have formed us, from the inside out, knitting us together before anyone could see us. We praise you with wonder at the intricacy of human beings, the complexity of body, mind and soul. You have hopes for each of us. Help us to listen for your hopes today, we ask in the name of Jesus.

CTW: You know us well

Submitted by Rev. Martha Spong, pastor at North Yarmouth Congregational Church, North Yarmouth, Maine.


One: We come to worship God, who knows us better than we know ourselves.
Many: We come to worship God, who can understand our thoughts, who knows when we sit down and when we get up and go.
One: O God, you know us well, in all the ways. Before we say a word, you know what is coming.
Many: Wherever we go, you are there. It’s hard to believe, but it’s the truth.
One: Let us worship God, who knows our hearts and our lives.

Simple Confession based on Psalm 139

From Laura Becker, Pastor, Northminster Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, TN

Call to Reconciliation
The psalmist declares that God who creates us – God who loves us, God who redeems us – searches us and knows us completely. Before a word is on our tongues, God knows it completely. And we are assured that there is nowhere we can go that is separated from the presence of God. Let us pray our prayer of confession in silence, and then speak the words of the psalmist together.

Prayer of Confession

(Silent Prayers)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen. (Psalm 139:23-24)

call to worship – based on Psalm 139

submitted by Michael Morgan, organist, Central Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, Georgia; seminary musician, Columbia Theological Seminary; and author of the Psalter for Christian Worship

One: O Lord, you have searched us and known us.
All: Before we move or think or speak, you know our actions and our words.
One: You breathed life into us, and shaped us in human form to serve your purpose and sing your praise.
All: We praise you for the gifts of substance and spirit, of acceptance and expectancy, of lineage and legacy.
One: How wonderful are your thoughts, O God!
All: How vast is the expanse of your grace and love!
One: Praise the Lord!
All: The Lord’s name be praised!