The service will include the lighting of candles, not only in memory of those who have passed away, but also to recognize the struggles in people’s lives. (Grace Kennedy photo)

The service will include the lighting of candles, not only in memory of those who have passed away, but also to recognize the struggles in people’s lives. (Grace Kennedy photo)

‘Longest Night of the Year’ service aims to support those who find holidays difficult, emotional time

People leave Christmas service ‘much more at peace,’ says Reverend Lori Megley-Best

Filtering through cloud cover and thick windows, the sunlight cast a blue quality over the walls of the Cloverdale United Church. Using a long-necked barbecue lighter, Reverend Lori Megley-Best illuminated the small table in the chancel with innumerable tealights.

It was staged: Megley-Best was lighting the candles for a few photographs. But in the empty and quiet room, it felt solemn, thoughtful. Something perhaps akin to what the church’s Longest Night of the Year service would feel like.

The service, to be held on Dec. 21 at 6:30 p.m. this year, is a chance for people to remember that Christmas isn’t always happy.

“It’s an opportunity to name, or at least voice, that Christmas isn’t always an easy time,” Megley-Best said. “And that it’s okay not to be super happy, not to be super up, not to be super excited about Christmas.”

Sometimes called Blue Christmas, the Longest Night of the Year service has been a part of the United Church holiday season for a number years. Megley-Best has been doing the service at the Cloverdale United Church for the last five years, and has held similar services at other churches before.

The Cloverdale United Church calls it the Longest Night of the Year service because it “refers to a time when the darkness is largest,” Megley-Best said. It’s often held around the winter solstice, when the daylight hours are the shortest they’ll be all year.

The service is usually small: only about 20 people, compared to the church’s usual 70. It’s normally people from Megley-Best’s congregation, and perhaps a few of their friends who are experiencing difficulties during the holiday season. Although there have been some people from the larger community join the service, that is rare.

“Sometimes to come to that kind of a service, it’s particularly difficult anyway,” she said. “So people do really need to have some support to come to it, particuarly if they’ve never been here before.”

“People are particularly vulnerable,” she added, explaining why the service might be difficult. “And I think they’re more vulnerable at a time when everybody else seems not to be that way.”

When Megley-Best prepares for the service, she keeps those difficulties in mind.

“I think about the people that probably would come to this one in particular, for this year,” she said.

“I think about those people and I think about … what they might or want to hear, or want to experience, in the midst of all the other frivolity before Christmas.”

Generally, the service is short, Megley-Best said, including quiet music and special readings. A few Christmas carols may be sung, but they will be the more reserved selections. There will be a time for silent reflection, prayer and the lighting of the candles to symbolize “some of the difficulties people might be bringing that evening,” Megley-Best said.

In a previous year at another church, Megley-Best remembers one parishioner who came to the Longest Night of the Year Service. She had suffered a miscarriage after a number of earlier miscarriages, and came in looking “distraught,” Megley-Best said.

But, “whatever happened for her during the service, she left [seeming] much more at peace,” she said.

“When people show up, and I show up to preside, that’s God’s work touching the people that come to the service.”

For Megley-Best, that’s an important part of the Longest Night of the Year service, and something that continues to remind her of her faith-based reason to celebrate Christmas.

“For me, being a Christian, we’re celebrating the fact that God came into the world to be with us and to console us and to comfort us, and to know us better,” she said.

“And so being at that service, and seeing that happen for people in the moment, it’s a reminder for me what the true meaning of Christmas [is].”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Christmas

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Lori Megley-Best, minister at Cloverdale United Church, holds a Christmas service for those who are greiving, suffering, or lonely during the holiday season. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Lori Megley-Best, minister at Cloverdale United Church, holds a Christmas service for those who are greiving, suffering, or lonely during the holiday season. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Just Posted

Chameleon Cafe, located in Maple Ridge, B.C., has a permanent street-side patio. (Black Press files)
Chamber of Commerce wants Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to move barriers to patios

Chamber president says struggling restaurants, bars and cafes don’t need additional red tape

Ken Dockendorf is president of the BC High School Boys Basketball Association. (THE NEWS files)
Administrators vote to change BC school sports governance

Maple Ridge coach says athletes won’t notice a change next season

Matt Trulsen of Maple Ridge went on from the PJHL to excel in junior college hockey in the U.S. (Dakota College at Bottineau/Special to The News)
Maple Ridge goaltender excels in U.S. junior college

Matt Trulsen, brother of the late Noah, calls community support ‘amazing’

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Industry very cautious when filming, Pitt Meadows woman argues

Women in film and TV sector lays out the COVID precautions, in response to a previous letter writer

(File photo)
Child-killer’s escorted-leave ‘beyond disappointing’: victim’s mother

Shane Ertmoed was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2000 death of 10-year-old Heather Thomas

FILE – Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Friday, March 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Looking for the nearest COVID shot? Tech entrepreneur creates texting software in B.C

Zain Manji says app took just one or two hours to create

Mike Haire, a former vice-principal at W. A. Fraser Middle School in Abbotsford, began court proceedings on Monday, May 3 in New Westminster for two child pornography offences.
Trial paused for former Abbotsford vice-principal charged with child porn

Judge reserves decision on admissibility of evidence against Mike Haire

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island and was seven years old when she was interned along with 22,000 B.C. residents in 1942. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds health services for survivors of Japanese internment

Seniors describe legacy of World War II displacement

Meghan Gilley, a 35-year-old emergency room doctor and new mom was vaccinated from COVID-19 in January, while she was pregnant. She’s encouraging others to do the same. (Submitted)
‘The best decision’: B.C. mom encourages other pregnant women to get COVID-19 shot

Meghan Gilley, 35, delivered a healthy baby after being vaccinated against the virus while pregnant

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Former Vernon Panthers football standout Ben Hladik of the UBC Thunderbirds (top, in a game against the Manitoba Bisons, <ins>making one of his 38 Canada West solo tackles in 2019</ins>), was chosen in Tuesday’s 2021 Canadian Football League draft. (Rich Lam - UBC Thunderbirds photo)
B.C. Lions call on Vernon standout in CFL draft

Canadian Football League club selects former VSS Panthers star Ben Hladik in third round of league draft

Low tide offered plenty of space for people to relax on White Rock's beach Sunday afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
City of White Rock asking outside visitors to stay away

South Surrey residents encouraged to visit, while others urged to stick close to home

(File photo)
B.C. child-killer’s escorted-leave ‘beyond disappointing’: victim’s mother

Shane Ertmoed was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2000 death of 10-year-old Heather Thomas

Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen is now under investigation from the Vancouver Police Department following sexual misconduct allegations. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Vancouver police investigating sexual misconduct claims against Canucks’ Jake Virtanen

Abbotsford native remains on leave with the Vancouver Canucks following recent allegations

Most Read