The days continue to get shorter and shorter and for many of us, this is only part of what makes the winter holidays a challenge. Some of us will be spending the holidays without loved ones, perhaps for the first time. Some struggle with mental illnesses including depression and seasonal affective disorder. Others are alone either because they live far from their family or because they have no family left. And some are beset by more than one of these circumstances. These reasons don’t matter. The fact is that not everyone is joyful at this time of year. Christmas carols sound hollow, Hanukah lights don’t seem to dispel the darkness, and the rampant commercialism combined with financial insecurities make it difficult to be “merry,” as so many others seem to expect of us. But there is a place for you to come and dwell for a brief time in a meditative atmosphere that will also give you the opportunity to pay tribute to your grief and sorrow.
On Thursday evening, December 18 at 7pm, the First Baptist Church in Gloucester invites you to attend The Longest Night Service. Named for the winter solstice, the longest night of the year after which the days grow longer and the light returns, The Longest Night is a service of quiet music and candlelight designed for those who need a peaceful place to be, if only for a short time, in the midst of the noise and bustle that the holidays bring. The service is Christian in nature, but all are invited to join us and to participate at a level that is comfortable for you. There will be a time to light candles in memory of loved ones now gone, in hope for our community and our world, and in the promised joy of burdens to be lifted. You may light one candle or many, or none at all if you prefer to just sit and enjoy the soft light that expels the darkness one candle at a time. You will also be able to receive private prayer if you so wish. After this brief service, light refreshments will be served.
If you need some time apart, if you are seeking a reason to sit in stillness, if you need a safe place to cry, please come and join us. No expectations, no jingling bells or blaring carols. Just you, the candlelight, gentle music, and other people who understand the need to be quiet for a while. You are welcome here, whatever you might be facing right now.
The First Baptist Church in Gloucester is an American Baptist congregation located at 38 Gloucester Avenue. For more information please call the church office at 978-283-4808.
May the light of the season illuminate your dark places,
Pastor Cindy Antonuk
Thursday, December 18
The First Baptist Church in Gloucester
The Longest Night
Sometimes called a Blue Christmas service, this is a time of reflection and light, music and prayer, designed for those who struggle to find happiness during the December holidays. You will have the opportunity to light candles, receive private prayer, listen to contemplative music, and share light refreshments.
Please join us for this peaceful evening in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season. All are welcome.
“Blue Christmas” at St. John’s
This might be helpful to some of your readers.
For many people, Christmas and the days around it are more about pain than joy. Saint John’s Episcopal Church is offering a service Sunday at 4 pm that will give voice to those feelings and respond to them with prayers and a ritual of spiritual healing. All are welcome.