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Longest Night Service 12 20 2021
Pam Smith
Pam Smith
Monday, December 20, 2021

        Monday, December 20, 2021, 4:00 pm
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
745 S. Ingraham Avenue
Lakeland, Florida
The Rev. Pamela Smith, Pastor


The pace of this service will be quiet. We will have occasional pauses of silence. At any time during the service you are invited to come forward and light a candle – a candle of remembering, of prayer, of grief, of hope



In the name of the Holy Trinity
the Father who gives rest,
+ the Son who brings peace,
and the Spirit who comforts,


The fruit of silence is Prayer.
The fruit of prayer is Faith.
The fruit of faith is Love.
The fruit of love is Service.
The fruit of service is Peace

+ WORD +

PSALM 62:5-8

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him. 
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 
On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. 

Trust in God at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before God;
God is a refuge for us.


Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
King of the Universe,
at your word you bring on the evening twilight.
You create day and night; 
you roll away light before the darkness,
and the darkness before the light;
you make the day to pass,
and the night to approach,
and divide the day from the night.
Blessed are you, O Lord,
for you bring
on the evening twilight.

Lighten our darkness, O Lord,
and of your great mercy defend us
from all perils and dangers of this night,
for the love of your only Son,
Our Savior, Jesus Christ.      Amen.

Daylight has ended
Night is upon us
yet unto you
sustainer of all things
darkness and light,
all times and all seasons
all are as one
O Lord of Creation.    Amen


Hymn   Come and Fill Our Hearts

Come and fill our hearts with your peace.
You alone, O Lord, are holy.
Come and fill our hearts with your peace.

PSALM 121     (sung responsively by whole verse)

I lift up my eyes to the hills —
  from where will my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
  who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
  he who keeps you will not fall asleep.
He who keeps Israel
  will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
  the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
  nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
  he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
  your going out and your coming in
  from this time on and for-evermore.

Reading from Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen

Romans 8:38-39

I am sure that neither death nor life, 
nor angels nor rulers
nor things present nor things to come,
nor powers
nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us
from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Hymn    Comfort, Comfort Now My People

"Comfort, comfort now my people;
tell of peace!" So says our God.
Comfort those who sit in darkness
mourning under sorrow's load.
To God's people now proclaim
that God's pardon waits for them!
Tell them that their war is over;
God will reign in peace forever.

For the herald's voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
calling us to true repentance,
since the reign of God is here.
Oh, that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way.
Valleys, rise to greet the Savior;
hills, bow down in humble favor.

Straight shall be what long was crooked,
and the rougher places plain.
Let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits God's holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
now on earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that God's word is never broken.

Reading from A Room Called Remember by Frederick Buechner 


Reading from Night Visions by Jan Richardson

Hymn    O Gracious Light

O gracious Light, 
Lord Jesus Christ,
in you the Father's glory
shone immortal, holy,
blest is he, and blest are you,
his holy Son. 


This first candle we light to remember those whom we have loved and lost.  

We pause to remember their names, their faces, their voices, the memory that binds us to them in life and in death, and even in this season of Advent.

May God’s eternal love surround them. 

This second candle we light to redeem the pain of loss; the loss of relationships, the loss of jobs, the loss of health. We pause to gather up the pain of the past and offer it to God, asking that from God’s hands we receive the gift of peace.

Refresh, restore, renew us, O God, and lead us into the future. 

 The third candle we light to remember ourselves this Christmastime. We pause to remember these past weeks and months: the disbelief, the emptiness, the anger, the down times, the poignancy of reminiscing, the sadness, the hugs and handshakes of family and friends, all those who stood with us. We acknowledge the care we have felt, and dare to give thanks for the support we have known.

Let us remember that dawn defeats night, and light defeats darkness. 

The fourth candle we light to remember God’s promises and the gift of peace and hope which the Christmas story offers the world. We are a country at war among ourselves, and yet we know that in Christ, God shares our life, knows pain and suffering, and leads us to new life. We remember God, who promises us a time of no more pain and suffering, who bends the instruments of war into farming tools, and desires abundant life for all.

Jesus Christ shows us the way; the darkness will not overcome his light. 

The light shines in the darkness.

And the darkness will not overcome it.



    Life is short, and we do not have much time
         to gladden the hearts of those
         who make this earthly pilgrimage with us.
So, be swift to love,
         Make haste to do kindness,
         Shower abundant hospitality on friend and stranger,
Walk in justice,
that you may follow the path of mercy and love.

And the blessing of God Almighty, 
the Father, the + Son, the Holy Spirit 
be with you now and forever.

Hymn    Abide with Me

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need thy presence ev'ry passing hour;
what but thy grace can foil the tempter's pow'r?
Who like thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, oh, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me!

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes,
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heav'n's morning breaks, 
and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Come and Fill Our Hearts, Text: Psalm 136:1 (Latin); Taizé Community.  Music: Jacques Berthier, 1923-1994. Text and music © 1982, 1991 Les Presses de Taizé. GIA Publications, Inc., agent. Reprinted and/or streamed with permission under OneLicense #A-722274.  All rights reserved.

New Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible

Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen, Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992.

Comfort, Comfort Now My People, Text: Johann G. Olearius, 1635-1711; tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1827-1878, alt. Music: Trente quatre pseaumes de David, Geneva, 1551.  Public domain.

A Room Called Remember,  Frederick Buechner, HarperOne Publishing, NY, 1992.

Night Visions, Jan Richardson,  Wanton Gospeller Press, Orlando, FL, 2010.

O Gracious Light, Text: Greek hymn, 3rd cent.; tr. Book of Common Prayer, used by permission.  Music: Thomas Tallis, 1505-1585. Public domain.

Abide with Me, Text: Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847. Music: William H. Monk, 1823-1889.  Public domain.