Christmas offers the hope of light and joy, but it can also bring feelings of grief and sadness as winter days grow darker and colder and we remember and grieve painful losses of different kinds. For many in our community, this may be especially true this year.
Recognizing this, the Bishop United Methodist Church is once again holding a Longest Night Service on December 21 at 7:00 PM to offer an opportunity for comforting words, companionship, and unconditional care for all—and particularly for anyone who is dealing with feelings of grief or sadness during the holidays.
Knowing that this season can be hard—even or perhaps especially in the midst of others’ holiday joy and celebration—Pastor Kate Hunter will share a message of care and comfort for all. “Your heart may be hurting,” she explains. “You and your sadness are welcome in our church. We’d be honored to have you with us on the 21st.”
Another caring tradition will continue at this year’s Longest Night Service. There will be teddy bears available in the pews that will have been in the chancel area of the church for a few weeks prior to the 21st. As written in the scripture, “Love bears all things; always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:7). These gently loved bears are given to anyone who needs one with prayers and a virtual big bear hug.
As Pastor Kate explains, “Grief and sadness can be unwelcomed guests during the holidays. But the more we acknowledge and embrace these feelings, the healthier and more whole our holidays and lives will be. These bears have spent time among us being prayed for, hearing the Word read and listening to songs of praise and worship. Our hope is that the thought of God’s arms wrapped around each one of us will be felt in our hearts. Come as you are, you are welcome without question.”