What is a Service of Hope?

It started as an ordination project.

Two years ago I had to lead a “fruitfulness project” to fulfill one of my ordination requirements. The project is intended to demonstrate a pastor’s effectiveness in leading a ministry that seeks to make disciples. That is the simplest way of defining the project.

I had a couple of ideas for my project – a study on the Book of Revelation, a youth ministry intern, etc. – but my heart settled on this worship service I had heard about. It was called a Blue Christmas or Longest Night Service.

A Blue Christmas Service or Longest Night Service typically takes place on the first day of winter – the longest night of the year – and recognizes how many of us struggle during the Christmas season. The service is intended to offer hope and expressions of peace in the midst of our struggles. Continue reading


O Come, O Come Emmanuel

A good hymn offers the prayers of our heart. It reflects, musically, the stirrings of our lives and soul as we reflect on God’s love and our need for the Lord’s peace in our lives.

I think that is why I have always loved “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This song has always been a prayer for me, even when I struggled with my faith for a period of time. The song focuses my heart on God’s hope and my need for God to simply come and be present in my struggles, anxieties, and the concerns of the world.

I especially love verse 6.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thy justice here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

I think about those words and it reminds me of how Advent and Christmas are not a time of celebration for many. Personally, I struggle at Christmas. I’m reminded often of family members who are no longer with us, disappointments from the previous year, and friends I have lost contact with. What about you?

I don’t know about you, but I need that reminder of Emmanuel, God with us, in those pains. I need that reminder in other moments in my life, as well, that God has come in Jesus to walk with us in the struggles and pains we all carry.

No one ever has to travel life alone, yet we often feel as though we must. It is why I believe in the Service of Hope we are doing on December 17 at 6 p.m. This service is intended for all of us, because we all have hurts or pains we carry with us on a regular basis. Places in our lives where we need to experience the hope of Emmanuel to come and “disperse the gloomy clouds of night.”

What would it look like for you, for me, for all of us, to experience hope this Christmas and realize that the hope of Christ has come to walk with us in our places of struggle?