Tonight is the longest night. As a way to mark this significant day, people will enter into houses of worship to light candles and pray. There will be silence and singing, speaking and listening. There will be tears.
It’s an important worshipping moment in the life of the church because in the midst of the dash towards Christmas, we step over to the sideline to catch our breath and breathe deeply.
It’s a time when the church says it’s “okay” if your spirit is heavy and your heart is not glad.
You are still God’s beloved even if you feel unloved by the world.
You belong to us, even if you feel you belong nowhere.
Tonight let’s remember the thousands who will spend the longest night alone. Not because solitude is what is desired, but because it seems impossible to be with other people.
Self-loathing, anxiety, depression, fear, paranoia, fatigue, and agoraphobia are aspects of mental illness that keep people feeling alone. And keep people out of church, even on a night like tonight that is meant for them.
Tonight we light a candle
for the woman who sits alone on her couch watching tv in her apartment
for the veteran who walks the cold alleyways looking for food
for the prisoner who has been cut off by his family
for the teen who is online for the fifteenth consecutive hour of the day
for all who spend this longest night alone
God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.