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While Christmas is a season of joy, not everyone feels like celebrating the holiday.

A "Longest Night Blue Christmas Evening Prayer" will be held on Thursday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m., at Madras United Methodist Church, led by Pastor Nancy Slabaugh Hart of the Madras United Methodist Church and Pastor Katherine Brick of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd and St. Mark's Episcopal Church. All are welcome to join.

While Advent is a season of hope, and Christmas is a season of joy, not everyone feels hopeful or like celebrating. Grief, illness, aging, depression, loneliness, unemployment, and loss are magnified.

Even those who are not struggling with losses may feel the stress of preparations and expectations around Christmastime. A Longest Night Blue Christmas service may provide a time and place of solace during the often frenetic days surrounding the celebration of Christmas.

At the service, people come together seeking healing and room to share grief, sadness, loneliness, confusion, or simply a quiet space when these emotions often feel out of place during the holidays.

In the Northern Hemisphere, Dec. 21 is the longest night, the winter solstice. It marks the shortest day of the year, the official start of winter.

Tradition says that nature and all her creatures stop and hold their breath to see if the sun will turn back from its wanderings, if the days will lengthen and the earth will once again feel the sun's warmth. On this darkest day of the year, people come with their honest yearnings seeking the return of light and hope.

Candlelight service

Later in the month, the Lutheran/Episcopal church will hold a traditional candlelight service on at 7 p.m., Dec 24. There will be lessons and Christmas carols. Everyone is welcome to join in the celebration of Jesus' birth, and refreshments will follow the service. For more information, call 541-475-6640.

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