On this longest night of the year, today we remembered those who died while experiencing homelessness in our region. It was a powerful service (8 years running now at NYA) made especially poignant by the reading of the names of the people who died living without a home.
Every person honored was someones daughter, son, brother, sister, mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend. Every person should be valued as a child of God made in Gods image, valued and loved.
We hold the service each year to honor those who have died and to advocate for those who are suffering amongst us. We find it shameful that in this region with so much opportunity, we fail to care for the most vulnerable amongst us. As people of faith and as people of conscience we believe that we are called to show up in the broken places: the places of deepest pain, suffering, and shame.
In those broken places, through both our actions and our words, we are to say that because you are a person who is created in the image of God —
You are not alone. You are valued. You are loved.
And by being present for one another, we are to be repairs of the breach, to breathe in a sense of healing that says because you are a person of dignity and worth, I see you, and I want to know you just as you are.
We also thanked the many interfaith and social service groups participating in today’s service. We would like to give a special recognition to Evelyn McMillan, the NYA cook, for a beautiful and hearty lunch that provided such a good opportunity for fellowship after the service.
On this longest night, will you pray with us?
O Holy God,
In the midst of winter,
In the midst of difficult political and economic times,
In the midst of great polarization,
On this longest day of the year,
We come to you in prayer.
We grieve this day for all those who have died experiencing homelessness,
We pray for that each person here would feel valued, and dignified, and loved.
God of wonders and miracles who moves us into action,
We pray that every person who desires it would be able to live with the dignity and the security of a home.
We pray for all those who died on the streets and in shelters this past year, unrecognized and unseen.
We pray that they will not be forgotten.
We pray especially upon their families and friends,
Both those in close in daily interactions
And those who have been separated by the distance of time and space.
God of all mercies
And giver of all comfort:
Look graciously, we pray on those who mourn,
That they may cast their worries on you.
Then, in your mercy,
Grant us safe lodging,
And a holy rest,
And peace at last.
Blessings this Holy Night.