GRASS VALLEY, Calif. December 15, 2016 – An event this Sunday will help people find hope amid holiday sadness.

“Longest Night” will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, at Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St. near downtown Grass Valley. All are welcome to this free spiritual event that connects participants to a loving spirit through candlelight, meditation, music, song, prayer and Bible readings.

A divisive national election, economic uncertainty and shocking violence at home and around the world add to the blues some people feel when days grow short and cold, said the Rev. Eileen Smith Le Van, the pastor at Peace Lutheran. Loneliness, grief and loss – of health, job or a relationship – can make it even more difficult to face holiday cheer and a new year.

“This service is an opportunity for us to turn our eyes to a God who is more deeply trustworthy, more deeply reliable and offers more reason to hope than any human leader or government,” Smith Le Van said.

Harp music will be played by Peace member Elizabeth Ekblad before the service starts and again during the meditation period following. After the service, people may partake in a form of deep spiritual healing offered by ancient spiritual leaders: anointing with aromatic oil and laying on of hands.

Both anointing and laying on of hands draw on ancient Jewish tradition, Smith LeVan explained. Anointing with oil symbolizes being set apart by God for a special purpose. Laying on of hands connotes a blessing and makes God’s presence real for the recipient, she said.

Nearly 7 percent of adults, and nearly 9 percent of young adults, experience major depression during the year, according to a 2013 study by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. During November and December, when social commitments and material expectations rise, people may feel increased stress, anxiety and social isolation, according to the Mayo Clinic.

For more about Peace Lutheran Church, visit or call (530) 273-9631. Trina Kleist is outreach coordinator for Peace.