Special to The Hays Daily News

Christmas can be a painful time for some people. It might be the first Christmas without a loved family member who recently has died; it might be a time that always has been difficult.

The constant refrain on the radio and television, in shopping malls and churches, about the happiness of the season, about getting together with family and friends, reminds many people

of what they have lost or never have had. The anguish of broken relationships, the insecurity of unemployment, the weariness of ill health, the pain of isolation -- all these can make us feel alone in the midst of the celebrating and spending. We need the space and time to acknowledge our sadness and concern; we need to know we are not alone.

Our spirits sink, as the days grow shorter. We feel the darkness growing deeper around us. We need encouragement to live the days ahead of us.

For these reasons. First United Methodist Church is offering a special "Longest Night Service" from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday, followed by refreshments.

We invite members of the Hays community join with us in sharing prayers, scripture and music that acknowledge God's presence for those who mourn and those who struggle. God's word comes to shine light into our darkness.