Longest night joint service is slated for Dec. 22 in Walker

December 14, 2015
Christmas can be a painful time for some. It may be the first Christmas without a loved family member who has recently died; it may be a time that has always been difficult, said Rev. Warren Clifton, pastor of Faith Crossing United Methodist Church in Walker. 

Clifton, along with a group pastors in the Baton Rouge and Monroe Districts, is planning a “Longest Night” or “Blue Christmas” service to be held Dec. 22 on 7 p.m. at Faith Crossing UMC, 34260 Walker Road North. The service is designed to meet the needs of those who are having a difficult time during the Christmas season. “It is often hard to explain to the wider church the pain that this season causes in some people, the way in which the constant refrain of family, of gathering, of celebration, of giving, of affluence and of happiness can rub salt into the wounds that some people already bear,” he explained.

Those clergy and congregations that are planning the service include Revs. Ali Kendig-Young from Ingleside UMC, Susie Thomas from Magnolia and Deerford UMCs,  Milton Bourque of Walker UMC, Reid Day of Corbin UMC, Renee Deaton of Mangum Chapel UMC, K.C. Roberson of Roberts UMC, and Allison Sauls of Foundry UMC in Sterlington. Natalie Johnson, youth director for First UMC in Denham Springs, is also assisting with planning.  

Rev. Thomas will lead communion during the service; Annelise Clifton, worship leader for Faith Crossing UMC, is planning the music, liturgy, prayers, slides and more.

Rev. Kendig-Young, who will offer words of grace during the service, had this to say: “Hannah prayed for years and years to God for a child. The scripture tells us that the Lord shut up her womb and it deeply grieved her. Her husband couldn’t understand her grief; he told her that he loved her despite her inability to bear children. Sometimes our grief is incomprehensible to others. Sometimes our loss, pain, suffering, hardships are all we can focus on in the moment. To others, it seems like it is time to move on, time to get over it. In this season, some of us are like Hannah--deeply grieved, unable to see much other than our grief. Just as surely as God was faithful to Hannah, God is and will be faithful to us. The dawn will come even after the longest night.” 

Because there is always the possibility during these services of someone in the congregation being overcome by intense feelings, Rebekah Durham and counselors from Family Plus (Methodist Child and Family Services) will be on hand to assist in those instances.

Musicians from the participating churches will contribute their talents to the service, as well.  

Clergy and laity in the Baton Rouge District are encouraged to send personal invitations to individuals they may know for whom Christmas is a difficult season.