Longest Night (Blue Christmas) Liturgy

Prelude Balm in Gilead, instrumental

Prayer of Invocation

Holy One, Why must this time of year feel so melancholy? Why when everyone else is joyous, do we miss those we’ve lost or those who are far away? Why is the world so broken, so fragmented? Why is there so much evil in the world? Why do we feel so alone? Move about the room. Spend time with each of our hurts. We are grateful you are not one to tell us to “buck up” or “move on.” We know you love us, even when we feel so lethargic and morose. Be present with us in the quiet. Be our  God. Be our hope in the darkness.

 Hymn Jesus Remember Me

Lighting the Advent Wreath (responsive)

We look around us and feel so sad, worthless, and discouraged.
And you remain with us. [light first candle]

We look around and see unspeakable violence, terrorism and hatred.
And you see who humanity can become. [light second candle]

We look around and find ourselves sliding into anger and hatred.
And you remind us who we are. [light third candle]

We feel sorry for ourselves. We think something is wrong with us.
And you see the good within. [light fourth candle]

We look around us and see death and destruction.
But you see hope. [light Christ candle]

Hymn Star-Child #174 SPP, screen

We look around and see greed, power seeking, and fear having its day. We are ready to give up on our human kindred.
But you never give up. You promise that despite these tough times you never give up on humanity.

Sacred Words  Ezekiel 37:1-14

The Lord’s power overcame me, and while I was in the Lord’s spirit, he led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones. 2 He led me through them all around, and I saw that there were a great many of them on the valley floor, and they were very dry.

3 He asked me, “Human one, can these bones live again?”

I said, “Lord God, only you know.”

4 He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Dry bones, hear the Lord’s word! 5 The Lord God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. 6 I will put sinews on you, place flesh on you, and cover you with skin. When I put breath in you, and you come to life, you will know that I am the Lord.”

7 I prophesied just as I was commanded. There was a great noise as I was prophesying, then a great quaking, and the bones came together, bone by bone. 8 When I looked, suddenly there were sinews on them. The flesh appeared, and then they were covered over with skin. But there was still no breath in them.

9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, human one! Say to the breath, The Lord God proclaims: Come from the four winds, breath! Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.”

10 I prophesied just as he commanded me. When the breath entered them, they came to life and stood on their feet, an extraordinarily large company.

11 He said to me, “Human one, these bones are the entire house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely finished.’ 12 So now, prophesy and say to them, The Lord God proclaims: I’m opening your graves! I will raise you up from your graves, my people, and I will bring you to Israel’s fertile land. 13 You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you up from your graves, my people. 14 I will put my breath[a] in you, and you will live. I will plant you on your fertile land, and you will know that I am the Lord. I’ve spoken, and I will do it. This is what the Lord says.”   2011 © Common English Bible

Response to Scripture

God bless this reading of God’s still speaking word.
May we embody God’s truths. Amen.

Message Becoming Sinew & Skin

Silent Prayer

Please light a candle as symbol of your grief, you hurt, or the person you’ve lost.

The Lord’s Prayer Together

Our Father who art heaven,
  hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
  thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in  heaven. 

Give us this day our daily
And forgive us our debts,
    as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into
        but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom & the
   power and the glory forever. Amen. 

*Hymn Spirit of the Living God #283 NCH

Spirit of the living God,
fall afresh on me;
Spirit of the living God,
fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God,
fall afresh on me.


Postlude Balm in Gilead

SPP = Sing! Prayer & Praise NCH = New Century Hymnal


Tim strives to share God’s extravagant love for all–no matter what & without strings. Seeking to follow the lure of the Spirit, Tim writes about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in an era where Christianity has come to be associated with hatred and political wedge issues. “Heinous things have been said & done (& still are) in the name of the One who breathed in the Divine,” notes Tim, “but Jesus shows us that God loves extravagantly.” Following the teachings and life of Jesus is about inclusion not exclusion. It is about compassion, grace, and admitting no one has all the answers. It is about responding lovingly to the best of our human ability. It is about people not institutions. It is about social justice. It is about caring for creation. It is about being who we were each created to be. Tim is a former early childhood educator, a runner, a hiker, a devoted husband, father of two adult children and their spouses, and a grandfather of four perfect grandchildren. Tim serves as Senior Pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Albany, Oregon. He writes from home, from the coffee shop, and wherever the trail leads him.

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Posted in Advent, Blue Christmas, Ezekiel, Ezekiel 37, Ezekiel 37:1-14, Liturgies, Liturgy, Longest Night, Old Testament, Seasons of the Church
2 comments on “Longest Night (Blue Christmas) Liturgy
  1. A beautiful liturgy, and particularly poignant for me during this time of year, due both to mental illness and the anniversary of a loss, 12 Decembers ago.

    I love that Christ is touched by the same weaknesses as me, and it’s good to be reminded that God is at home in our pain as much as our gladness (if not more so).

    Coincidentally, I’ve also written about the four winds passage in Ezekiel during this Advent season (here).

    Again, thank you for the post. Grace and peace to you.


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All materials by Tim Graves unless otherwise noted. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

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