The service will include the lighting of candles, not only in memory of those who have passed away, but also to recognize the struggles in people’s lives. (Grace Kennedy photo)

‘Longest Night of the Year’ service aims to support those who find holidays difficult, emotional time

People leave Christmas service ‘much more at peace,’ says Reverend Lori Megley-Best

Filtering through cloud cover and thick windows, the sunlight cast a blue quality over the walls of the Cloverdale United Church. Using a long-necked barbecue lighter, Reverend Lori Megley-Best illuminated the small table in the chancel with innumerable tealights.

It was staged: Megley-Best was lighting the candles for a few photographs. But in the empty and quiet room, it felt solemn, thoughtful. Something perhaps akin to what the church’s Longest Night of the Year service would feel like.

The service, to be held on Dec. 21 at 6:30 p.m. this year, is a chance for people to remember that Christmas isn’t always happy.

“It’s an opportunity to name, or at least voice, that Christmas isn’t always an easy time,” Megley-Best said. “And that it’s okay not to be super happy, not to be super up, not to be super excited about Christmas.”

Sometimes called Blue Christmas, the Longest Night of the Year service has been a part of the United Church holiday season for a number years. Megley-Best has been doing the service at the Cloverdale United Church for the last five years, and has held similar services at other churches before.

The Cloverdale United Church calls it the Longest Night of the Year service because it “refers to a time when the darkness is largest,” Megley-Best said. It’s often held around the winter solstice, when the daylight hours are the shortest they’ll be all year.

The service is usually small: only about 20 people, compared to the church’s usual 70. It’s normally people from Megley-Best’s congregation, and perhaps a few of their friends who are experiencing difficulties during the holiday season. Although there have been some people from the larger community join the service, that is rare.

“Sometimes to come to that kind of a service, it’s particularly difficult anyway,” she said. “So people do really need to have some support to come to it, particuarly if they’ve never been here before.”

“People are particularly vulnerable,” she added, explaining why the service might be difficult. “And I think they’re more vulnerable at a time when everybody else seems not to be that way.”

When Megley-Best prepares for the service, she keeps those difficulties in mind.

“I think about the people that probably would come to this one in particular, for this year,” she said.

“I think about those people and I think about … what they might or want to hear, or want to experience, in the midst of all the other frivolity before Christmas.”

Generally, the service is short, Megley-Best said, including quiet music and special readings. A few Christmas carols may be sung, but they will be the more reserved selections. There will be a time for silent reflection, prayer and the lighting of the candles to symbolize “some of the difficulties people might be bringing that evening,” Megley-Best said.

In a previous year at another church, Megley-Best remembers one parishioner who came to the Longest Night of the Year Service. She had suffered a miscarriage after a number of earlier miscarriages, and came in looking “distraught,” Megley-Best said.

But, “whatever happened for her during the service, she left [seeming] much more at peace,” she said.

“When people show up, and I show up to preside, that’s God’s work touching the people that come to the service.”

For Megley-Best, that’s an important part of the Longest Night of the Year service, and something that continues to remind her of her faith-based reason to celebrate Christmas.

“For me, being a Christian, we’re celebrating the fact that God came into the world to be with us and to console us and to comfort us, and to know us better,” she said.

“And so being at that service, and seeing that happen for people in the moment, it’s a reminder for me what the true meaning of Christmas [is].”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Lori Megley-Best, minister at Cloverdale United Church, holds a Christmas service for those who are greiving, suffering, or lonely during the holiday season. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Just Posted

Vancouver concert promoter bans Nazi symbols at shows

A man was witnessed making a Nazi salute during a heavy metal show at Pub 340

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

High calibre athletes enjoyed Hope Curling Club

Injured Canuck Bo Horvat on hand to watch girlfriend win at curling playdowns

A trip for red wine led to new store in Hope

Couple leaves ice roads for life in retail

Hope Hospice tree brings Christmas cheer

Passers-by can use the provided tags to write the name of friends, family or even pets that have passed

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Family suspends search for missing Alberta couple, plane near Revelstoke

Due to bad weather, families of missing Albertan couple say they will resume in the spring

Canadian grocers make $3M per year from penny-rounding: UBC study

Ottawa announced plans in 2012 to phase out the copper coin

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

B.C. anti-hate campaigner finds Google search on his efforts redirects to porn

Text from online news article about Cran Campbell being used to link to suspect websites

‘The Last Jedi’ opens with $220M, 2nd best weekend all-time

As anticipated, the movie fell shy of the opening weekend for J.J. Abrams’ 2015 franchise reboot

2 couples tie the knot in Australia’s 1st same-sex weddings

West Australian couple Anne Sedgwick, Lyn Hawkins have been together for 40 years

EDITORIAL: Putting #MeToo to work in your workplace

Workers from top to bottom need to stand together against the bully of sexual harassment

Most Read