Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4
Blue Christmas services include an emphasis on candles, with people in the congregation invited to come forward and light a candle in memory of someone or to mark an event in their lives. Some will say words out loud, others in silent prayer. Candles are also sometimes lit as prayers or Scripture readings are recited.
I appreciate these types of outreach services for a couple of reasons. I lost my granny LaVella on Christmas day when I was just a little girl. Christmas is not a happy cheery time. I miss that sweet woman every day and it’s a shame that the timing was that way, but it’s not a loss I’ll just get over and go on. And, I may get some raised eyebrows, but I’m just gonna say it… Christ came to earth as a baby, an infant – and most people are really cool with that. I have a tendency to cry at all things “baby” – and it’s not that I don’t understand things on a theological level – but at the heart level – the “I’m a woman” level… it’s difficult to sit through a traditional Christmas program.
I used to think I just had to suck it up, buttercup. At one time I worked with children to help them with choir performances at Christmas. There were times I thought I’d lose it. I’d go home and cry uncontrollably. I just thought I had to tough things out. All I was really doing was making things worse for myself. Did God really expect that of me? Did He really?
I did some soul-searching and prayed a long time about it. God did not expect me to self-inflict pain and agony. Nowhere in my Bible does it say thou shalt inflict pain on thyself. I’m to love and care for people – but there are other ways to do that, right? I’ve since found other ministries that allow me to be whole. That’s what God wants me to be… whole in Him. I had to find ways to serve the Lord that are less painful on my heart and mind.
I appreciate the Blue Christmas services. It’s especially for people who deal with grief around Christmas. We’re allowed to feel what we feel and as we feel, we heal. It’s not a denial of the facts of Christmas – it’s just not rubbing our noses in it – if that makes sense. I don’t have to sit through an excruciating reenactment of the events that took place in Bethlehem. It’s good for people with children, and I believe it’s great for children to be involved. I just had to excuse myself from it – before it sent me over the edge. I’m glad I did. I’m at peace like never before. In a traditional setting, I always felt as though nobody understood my tears except God. When I’m sitting with others who feel the same way I do – and some who suffer recent losses… I not only feel understood, but I’m there to understand what they’re going through.
Please do not think I’m somehow diminishing a traditional Christmas program. I’m not. I would, however, encourage more congregations to be more inclusive of people who feel deep sorrow at Christmas. I understand that it’s basically what a Christmas Eve candlelight service & Lord’s Supper is for… but there’s something about being allowed to say your loved one’s name out loud. Here in America we’re not very comfortable letting each other talk about a loss – or say the name of a loved one out loud. Why IS that? I’m just saying, you know that when someone loses a loved one – that person is going to be the only thought in their mind, right? So, why not have one extra service at Christmas just for those who are grieving? Why are American churches so afraid of doing that? I guess I just don’t understand. I would invite more churches to consider a BLUE CHRISTMAS service. Yeah – it’s a bummer – but guess what? Speaking as one who chooses to attend the Blue Christmas service… it’s healing. God smiles when His children have needs met by the church – which, if I remember right, is to be the hands and feet of Christ in ministry. I think I remember that being the case.
Father God, Your heart beats for the vulnerable and for those who are alone. Help us to love Your people as You love them, for we are made in Your image. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This is for my granny. She liked Elvis. If Elvis is in Heaven, maybe they’re singing duets, who knows? 🙂
While my family is in Heaven saying Happy Birthday to Jesus… I’ll just stay here and say Merry Christmas to you! 🙂