Longest Night Service at Church of Eternal Hills to bring together those who are struggling during holiday season
My mom, a vibrant force of nature, was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer at the age of 46.
She fought cancer for years and spent time in remission. Then, she lost the fight to metastatic breast cancer at the age of 59. She left behind three daughters and her spouse of 34 years.
The one time of year that she felt the world come alive was the holiday season. She loved the lights, time with family, presents and the time away from work.
When our family thought of the holidays, she was the conductor of our cheer and made us all feel loved and cared for. We wrestled through the first years without her trying to force our celebrations to be what they had been and finally came to terms with the fact that it wouldn’t ever be the same for us. In fact, one of my siblings opted for Hawaii this year instead of facing the cheery and bright smiles of those around her who are confused when she can’t get on board.
Luckily, the Rev. Paula Steinbacher at Church of the Eternal Hills foresaw the need of families and individuals to experience a moment of pause, a time for grief and a place to be in community during the holiday season.
Four years ago she started a Longest Night Service where anyone is welcome to come, take off the mask of holiday cheer and see that there are others that may be struggling, more than ever, this time of year.
This service led me to an idea for a prayer room that lasts for 24 hours on the longest night of the year, Dec. 21. The metaphor is beautiful to me; let’s stand together and bring some light and awareness to this, of all nights.
This year, the online presentation can be accessed by individuals who want to partner with those who are struggling or who may be struggling themselves. The topics covered include grief and loss, family dynamics, depression and other mental health, and suicidal ideation. There is a time of prayer included. We do not know what our neighbors are walking through this time of year and we want to bring empathy and awareness to our community.
We would love if you wanted to partner with us. The service will be held at Church of the Eternal Hills on Friday, Dec. 21 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Following the service, the prayer link will be active for 24 hours. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be sent the link.
Wishing you blessings and support this holiday season, no matter where you are coming from.
Julia Macchione is intentional faith development director at Church of the Eternal Hills.
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