St. Luke’s Episcopal Church invites public to winter solstice service

The service, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 21, will be centered around silence, music and poetry.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is opening its doors to the public and extending an invitation to their winter solstice service on Dec. 21.

The service is the fourth and final service of a year long series. Each of the four services were held during the yearly solstices and equinoxes and was structured with corresponding themes.

For the spring equinox service, the service was themed “Spring Afresh.” The summer solstice, which included music, dancing beer and wine, was themed “Rise Up.” The autumn equinox service was themed “Re:Turn,” with an emphasis on “Return to your soul.”

The winter solstice service, which falls on the darkest night of the year, is themed “Yule: Light for the darkest night.”

The service won’t follow a traditional Episcopal format. Rather, is considered to be a “gentle service” centered around silence, poetry and music — languages that can speak to anyone, according Kevin Pearson, reverent at the church.

“Poetry and music have a deep sense of the sacred, and it’s usually more current than what people might encounter in church,” Pearson. “It’s very sacred stuff that speaks and evokes changing of times and spirit of a time. We’re doing it to reach our current congregation, but also to reach beyond that to people in our culture for whom church may not be the primary touchstone of the sacred but who still has very much a sense of sacred in the earth and in their lives and want to see that reflected or appreciate that.”

Pearson said he’s aware there’s a number of people in the community who are turned off by the idea of church and institutional religion, yet hungers for something deeper and meaningful. This service is fashioned with those in mind.

“It is to speak to those who are ostracized by the church in some way or may not have had any experience of formal church and find the prospect daunting,” he added.

Apart from liturgies centered around Gary Snyder, John O’Donohue, Marilynne Robinson and John Steinbeck’s written work, it will also include music by artists like The Byrds or Sweet Honey in the Rock.

This is the second year St. Luke’s has done the series of services and it has received positive reception from St. Luke’s congregation and visitors alike, Pearson said.

“We started doing this because we saw a hunger for this. It’s slowly catching on,” he said.

The service, which is right in the middle of the advent season, reflects a personal journey for Pearson.

“The advent journey is a journey into the dark,” he said. “I try to pay attention to the fact that life isn’t always bright and shining but there are difficult and hard times, and that’s not a time to turn away, but to go deeper and to find a sense of sacred and the light that’s there.”

The winter solstice service is 7 p.m. on Dec. 21. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is located 99 Wells Ave S.

“You are welcome and you can come as you are, Pearson said. “We speak the language of the people. It need not be scary to come to church.”

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