The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and light. But the reality for many is that the holidays can be a time of stress, loneliness or grief.
Personal loss, death of a loved one, illness and job loss can make us feel estranged from the happiness around us. That’s why four Valley pastors came together on the longest, darkest night of the year—December 21—to share their compassion with those who feel like they’re in darkness.
Greeting the small gathering, “You’re not alone. Your feelings are honored,” says Rev. Paul Mitchell, new pastor at Snoqualmie United Methodist Church.
He joined the Rev. Mark Griffith, pastor of Mount Si Lutheran, the Rev. Patty Baker of St. Clare Episcopal Church in Snoqualmie, and the Rev. Mary Brown, the retired pastor of Snoqualmie Methodist, in a special service, The Longest Night. Guests were welcomed to light a candle for someone they miss, say a healing prayer, take annointing with holy oil or simply feel a hand on their shoulder.
“For some of us, this is the hardest time of year,” Mitchell said. “We’re expected to be happy.”
After the Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, Conn., it seemed even more important to host a local Longest Night service.
One visitor wanted to talk about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, asking for consolation for the people touched by the tragedy.
“We are called upon to make a world where that doesn’t happen,” Mitchell said, “to be constantly doing what we can so that when something like that happens, we’re ready to deal with it.”
The holidays have always been a time of advent, of yearning and for hopes of things to come.
“Our faith brings us back to that joy,” Baker said. “In our community gatherings, we still hope for joy, we still trust in the joy that God offers us.”
During the service, guests came forward to light candles. One visitor said he left with a deep feeling of gratitude.
“Once we allow ourselves to admit that we’re struggling, then we start to become more aware of all the good that’s underpinning all of us,” Mitchell said.
The pastors welcome anyone who would like to connect with them for prayer or sharing.
St. Clare hosts healing prayer and anointing on the first Sunday of every month. Anyone is welcome to come forward.
• Snoqualmie United Methodist Church is located at 38701 S.E. River St.; (425) 888-1697; snoqualmieumc.com/SUMC/Welcome.html
• St. Clare Episcopal Church is located at 8650 Railroad Ave. S.E., Snoqualmie; (425) 831-6175; www.stclareschurch.org.
• Mount Si Lutheran Church is located at 411 NE 8th St, North Bend; mtsilutheran.org/cms; (425) 888-1322