Longest Night Service – 12/21/20

Longest Night Service – 12/21/20

McPherson First Church of the Brethren
We invite your active participation in the life of this congregation, as together we continue to grow in grace and seek justice for God’s creation.

Monday, December 21, 2020 | 7:30 p.m.
Longest Night Service
‘holding that which has been difficult – grieving what has been lost’

Bless the Lord, My Soul
Bless the Lord, my soul, and bless God’s holy name. Bless the Lord, my soul, who leads me into life.

Litany of Lament Psalm 22
One: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, so far from the words of my groaning?
Two:   O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but I find no rest.
One:    In you, our ancestors trusted. They trusted and you delivered them.
Two:   It was you who took me from the womb, you who kept me safe upon my mother’s breast;
since my mother bore me, you have been my God.
One:    Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
Two:   God does not despise the affliction of the afflicted; God does not hide from me.
When I cry to God, God hears me.

Words of Welcome
The Advent season can be one of wonder.  For many it is a time of hopeful anticipation – a season of promise. 
Longer nights and colder weather seem to provide the perfect setting for twinkling lights and warm drinks.
Everywhere we turn we are reminded that it is a time of celebration.

However for many, the holidays are also a harsh reminder of life that once was and is no longer.
For many, Christmas is a reminder of poignant losses.
And so – we gather in quiet reflection – to honor those absences – to acknowledge these changes.

We gather to perhaps; shed a tear – or simply be with others who accept our feelings – we come together in
this place where we can just ‘be’ – exposing our raw wounds unapologetically. 

Together – we affirm with and for one another – that we are NOT alone.
We gather and are reminded – that it is right and purposeful to mourn – even at Christmas.

Scripture of Grief and Hope | Lamentations 3:19-26 | New International Version (NIV)
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of God’s great love we are not consumed, for God’s compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “God is my portion; therefore I will wait for God.”
25 God is good to those whose hope is in God, to the one who seeks God;
26 it is good to wait quietly for the Reign of God.

Nada te turbe | reflective of Psalm 121

Nada te turbe, nada te͜ espante quien͜ a Dios tiene nada le falta.
Let nothing shake you, let nothing frighten you, those in God’s presence, they shall lack nothing.
Nada te turbe, nada te͜ espante. Sólo Dios basta.
Let nothing shake you, let nothing frighten you, God is all we need.

En Cristo mi confianza (Nada te turbe, nada te espante)
In Christ my trust (Nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you)
Y de Él solo mi asimiento (Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta)
and from Him alone my hold.(Who has God, lacks nothing)
En sus cansancios mi aliento (Nada te turbe, nada te espante)
In their tiredness my breath (Nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you)
Y en su imitación mi holganza (Solo Dios basta)
and in its imitation my laziness (Only God is enough)

Aquí estriba mi firmeza (Nada te turbe, nada te espante)
Here is my firmness (Nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you)
Aquí mi seguridad (Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta)

Here is my security (Who has God, lacks nothing)
La prueba de mi verdad (Nada te turbe, nada te espante)
The proof of my truth (Nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you)
La muestra de mi firmeza (Solo Dios basta)
The sample of my firmness (Only God is enough)

Nada te turbe, nada te espante
(Nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you)
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta
(Who has God, lacks nothing)
Ya no durmáis, no durmáis (Nada te turbe, nada te espante)
You no longer sleep, you do not sleep (Nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you)
Pues que no hay paz en la Tierra (Solo Dios basta)
Well, there is no Peace on Earth (Only God is enough)

No haya ningún cobarde (Nada te turbe, nada te espante)
There is no coward (Nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you)
Aventuremos la vida (Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta)
Let’s venture life (Who has God, lacks nothing)
No hay que temer, no durmáis (Nada te turbe, nada te espante)
There is no need to fear, do not sleep (Nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you)
Aventuremos la vida (Solo Dios basta)
Let’s venture life. (Only God is enough)

Bringing the Light
In your own home – If you would like to light a candle – or turn off all of your lights but one –
or turn off all your lights except your Christmas Lights – please do so at this time.

Now – Let us share our individual light – that all our lights together might shine into the darkness –
– bringing light for remembrance, light for healing and light for hope.
For it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

God of compassion, you have given us your son Jesus, to be for us the great physician, making the broken
whole and overcoming even the darkness of death and despair with new life and hope.
Thank you for the one who touched the untouchable, reached out to the dying, and brought healing and
wholeness to those who had despaired of mending.
We pray to be open to your spirit in our lives – touching our wounds, relieving our hurts, and restoring us to
wholeness of life.
We offer you our troubled souls that they might be set free from restlessness and anxiety.
We pray to be upheld by your strength – anchored upon the rock of your steadfast presence.
We open ourselves to your peace and power that will keep us in all times – even those of trouble and distress.
Lend us your ear for our comfort.
Hear us now as we offer silently our prayers for the people and situations represented by these candles, and for the needs that are hidden deep
within our spirits. [Silence]

Grant us, O God, the fullness of your promises.
Where we have been weak, grant us your strength; where we have been confused, grant us your guidance;
where we have been distraught, grant us your comfort; and in all times and circumstances
grant us your peace.
God of great compassion and love, listen to the prayers of these your people.
Grant to all, especially the bereaved and troubled ones this Christmas, Your blessing and love.

Jesus Remember Me
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Blessing | December Solstice | by Roddy Hamilton
New Kilpatrick Church | www.nkchurch.org.uk/ (adapted)
The solstice night has arrived and will be gone – and in it – the death of darkness
For an age the light has been slipping away – but now – no further!
The light returns
And the light says:
Arise, shine, for your light has come
This promise frees us from the frost and long nights of waiting
There is an awakening
And the light says:
The people who have walked in darkness – have seen a great light
The day – is filled with hope and begins to stretch – pushing at the edges of the darkness –
Scraping it away with hope of new life
And the light says:
For unto you a child is born – Unto you a son is given
This is a light greater than any darkness
This is a light longer than any night
This is a light more than even – the day
Right in the heart of human dark and light –
A manger is filled – As the age of brightness bursts forth
This light has found a place
This light will chase away all shadow, all fears
This light brings a new dawn Make room – for the light.

“Stay with me”
Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray, watch and pray.

Loss is never the final chapter. 
The despair of losses may linger – however God continues to call us –
not asking us to leave behind our grief but to integrate it, learn from it, carry it forward into the rest of our days
– as we seek to walk with others with compassion and grace.

Go now into the night knowing that you need not go alone.
Go now into the night knowing that the dawn is coming.
Go now into the night knowing that love endures forever.
Go now into the night knowing that the Christ child will come again and again and again.
Go now, and may the peace of the innocent child, the peace that surpasses all understanding,
be with you now and forevermore.