PITTSTON — There were no Christmas fanfares or triumphant organs ringing through the Second Presbyterian Church Monday evening. Instead, the lights were dimmed.
The annual Blue Christmas/Longest Night Worship was held Dec. 21 and led by three local pastors from the Greater Pittston area. Rev. David Brague of Second Presbyterian, Rev. Jim Thyren of the First Presbyterian Church of West Pittston, and Pastor David Walker of West Pittston First United Methodist Church led the scriptures, music and meditations “offering the comfort of God in the darkest times of the congregation’s lives.”
Approximately 50 people attended the service, which is sometimes called the Longest Night because it is held near the winter solstice.
Brague reminded the congregation that the night isn’t just about the loss of a loved one, but also the loss of a job, a goal, a cause or a dream.
The church on Parsonage Street in Pittston has been doing the service since 2009.
“It’s always been about the gathering of the community,” Brague said. “Usually we deal with our grief alone. This provides an opportunity for people to realize they are not alone in this. There are other people grieving.”
The service was open to people of all denominations. That’s one of the reasons why this service is so special, Brague said.
“That’s just it,” he said. “It doesn’t matter denomination.”
Walker, from the First United Methodist Church in West Pittston, provided the message for the evening. He admitted the message was not his own words, but those words of fellow worship leader, Rev. Holley Potts. Walker’s message focused on how the world gets caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
During the Season of Advent, he said, we put on a front to help deal with the possible sorrows in life.
“It’s an opportunity for people to come together to spend a few moments in silence and reflection,” Walker said following the service. “It helps remind them that even in the midst of their grief, God is present.”
Walker eluded to the very beginning of the bible — Genesis. The first two verses of the bible explain how God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty and darkness casted a shadow over the surface. Through all that, however, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
It’s not until the third verse the famous words, “Let there be light,” are said.
“We need to be reminded of that, even in these difficult times,” Walker said. “I found that so appropriate that even in the darkness, God is doing his best work sometimes. “
Prior to the message from Walker, the three worship leaders referenced the Litany of Remembrance. Four candles were lit signifying different things. The first candle was lit to remember those whom we loved and lost. The second candle was to remember the pain of loss. The third candle was to remember ourselves at Christmas time. The final candle was to remember faith, the gift of light and hope that God offers.
“The way our culture works, we put on a good front and a happy face,” Thyren said. “This lets them know they are not alone.”
The service climaxed when the congregation was asked to come forward for an Act of Remembrance. Church-goers, one by one, poured salt into a bowl full of water. The act symbolized tears of the people in attendance and grieving across the globe. Each person at the service was given a blue flower in remembrance of the night.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick