On Wednesday, December 21, First United Methodist Church, Copperhill, will offer a Service of the Longest Night. Sometimes called Blue Christmas, this service has a long tradition related to the date of Christmas itself.
No one knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth. Only the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke contain stories related to his birth and childhood. The Gospel according to John, tells us that Jesus was with God, was God in the very beginning when life began.
The earliest dates of Christmas celebrations were January 6 and December 25. By the way, there are twelve days from December 25 to January 5. For many Christians these are the Twelve Days of Christmas and January 6 is Epiphany Day. For some European cultures, this is remembered as the “old” Christmas. It is now a day to celebrate Christ for the World, as savior and Lord.
These days come after the winter solstice, the longest night and shortest day of the calendar. There are many reasons given for the setting of this time, but in any case, for those who lived with an agrarian calendar, like farmers with an almanac, this was a time when winter was on its way out. Days were getting longer, nights shorter, and spring closer.
December 21 is the date of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Too often we fail to appreciate how sunshine and dark affect our feelings. While we are trying to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we may be at our lowest point emotionally, even physically. Therefore, the Service of the Longest Night is purposely aimed at challenging the “blues” and sadness that may occur at this time. We also recognize many changes that may have occurred to make it more difficult for us to experience the joy of Christmas.
This is an opportunity to hear the Good News of Emmanuel, God with us. It is one more way to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Jesus’ birth and for his coming again in final victory.
The Service of the Longest Night will begin at five p.m. and be followed by fellowship and refreshments. First UMC, Copperhill is located at 146 Scenic Drive.