Longest Night and Blue Christmas Services Offer Comfort to the Grieving

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5

The Longest Night or “Blue Christmas” service is a recognition that within the joy of Advent and the “Christmas season,” many find themselves in times of grief, loneliness, even despair, and need the support of God and our community to help them find their way through. In many ways, this feeling of Advent desolation became even more acute during the pandemic, with its losses of life but also sometimes simple human contact.

Traditionally held on Dec. 21—the “longest night” of the year with the most hours of darkness, there is no defined worship service for the Episcopal Church.

Trinity Cathedral in Trenton, in cooperation with the NJ School for Ministry, will hold a Longest Night service at 7 p.m. on Dec. 21.

Several congregations in the diocese are holding Longest Night or Blue Christmas services. Holy Trinity South River has already held its service on Dec. 11.

Grace Church Grace Haddonfield will hold what it calls a “Service for Solace” on Dec. 21, at 6 p.m. “We all have been through so much these past few years,” said the Rev. Kim Reinholz, Interim Priest at Grace. “This is an opportunity to sit, rest, and reflect on that which we have lost, forgotten or which we grieve in silence.”

Trinity Cathedral in Trenton, in cooperation with the NJ School for Ministry, will hold a Longest Night service at 7 p.m. on Dec. 21. The congregation will hold lighted candles representing all the grief they hold. As they blow out the light, they will prayer for one another’s release from all that is weighing them down. The service will  be carried live on the diocesan YouTube channel and other diocesan and cathedral social media channels, as well as on the diocesan Web site at

St. John’s Little Silver holds its “Out of Darkness Comes Light”—A Blue Christmas Service for Those who Mourn on Dec. 21 at 7:00 p.m. They describe it as “a prayer, candlelight, and healing service for those who struggle with the effects of grief, loss, and change during the holiday season.”

St. Peter’s Freehold’s Longest Night service will be at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 21., both onsite and online.

These services not only lift up, support, and comfort those grieving at this time of year; they create a greater awareness of others’ struggles. So many of us go blithely through December, thinking everyone is filled with joy in this “happiest season of all.” Blue Christmas and Longest Night services help us walk in solidarity with those in need.

Is your congregation holding a Blue Christmas, Longest Night, or other special service? Submit it to the diocesan Web calendar