Blue Christmas and Blue Holiday Worship Services

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Faith communities are increasingly attentive to the needs of people who are "blue" during this holiday season. They are creating sacred space and hospitable settings to include those who face various kinds of losses, grief or depression. Such services are reflective, accepting the reality of where we are emotionally. They offer a message of hope and the assurance of God's presence with us in the midst of our darkness. 

There are a number of sites on the internet that provide worship resources suitable for use at a "Blue Christmas" or "Longest Night" worship services. One example is the Blue Christmas Worship Resource Index from Mental Health Ministries

God's Timing

O God, grant us a sense of your timing.
In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of beginnings;
that such waitings and endings may be the starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth what is ready to be born-
something right and just and different,
a new song, a deeper relationship, a fuller love-
in the fullness of your time.
O God, grant us the sense of your timing.

~ written by Ted Loder, in Guerrillas of Grace.

There are samples of Blue Christmas and a Blue Interfaith Holiday Service in the Worship section under Resources on the Mental Health Ministries website.

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Community Builder

Also consider these resources from Reformed Worship

A Time to Weep--During Advent

Real Joy, Genuine Faith: Biblical Lament during Advent

Light for Our Wilderness: A Candlelight Service

From Lament to Praise: A New Year Eve's Journey Through the Psalms

RW subscribers can also access "Longest Night: A Service of Christmas Mourning" in the latest issue (RW 125). 

Also see: Lift Up Your Hearts #62 "An Advent Lament". 

Participant

Thank you for posting this! We do a Blue Christmas service annually, and those who attend are always so appreciative.  These resources are helpful to give us some new ideas.  Thanks!

Guide

Joyce, thanks for sharing additional resources. 

Diane, what a loving service your congregation does for hurting people in your congregation and community. Because you do this every year, you may have developed some resources as a congregation. If you have, would you like to share them so that others can benefit from your work?

Participant

Here is a service we have done in the past. We have used this basic form for the past several years, with some minor changes. One of the things we often do is to give nametags to the people who attend, and have them write the name of the person (including themselves) or situation they are thinking of or mourning during this season.  Something about naming it and writing it down helps begin, or open them up to,the healing.

Solo/Duet: Breath of Heaven

 

Welcome

This evening we gather during this Christmas season in a spirit of somber

remembrance. While the rest of the world seems to celebrating the joyous

occasion, we come to manger realizing that the world is cold as stone, feelings of

loneliness and loss overwhelm, and our heart cries out help me be strong, help

me . I invite each of you this evening not to hide or suppress those feelings, but

embrace them, realizing that they bring you much closer to the real Christmas

story.

 

For this evening we remember the true story helpless babe born into a world that

was struggling, a world that was questioning where was God, and world crying

out why? The helpless babe born in cold stone room without the joyous welcome

we often picture. The helpless babe born in a family that was poor, tired, and

frightened. The helpless babe who would change all this for the world.

 

We Gather in God's Presence

Lono, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May

my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. I am overwhelmed

with troubles, and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those

who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. (Psalm 88:1-4)

Light Christ Candle

 

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the

land of deep darkness a light has dawned ... For to us a child is born, to us a son

is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the

greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. (lsaiah 9:2 & 6-7)

 

Song:  O Little Town of Bethlehem

 

God's Greeting/Mutual Greetings

 

We Remember and Seek Comfort

 

Advent Candle Lighting: A Litany of Remembrance

 

First Candle; Persons who have been loved and lost

 

We light the first Advent candle and remember those persons who have been

loved and lost. We pause to remember their names, their faces, their voices.

We give thanks for the memory that binds them to us in this season.

Lord, surround us all with your eternal love.

 

AII sing: O come, O Come, lmmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! lmmanuel shall come to you, O lsrael.

 

(silence)

 

Word of comfort: Psalm 103:13-17

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are formed,

he remembers that we are dust.

The life of mortals is like grass,

they flourish like a flower of the field;

the wind blows over it and it is gone,

and  its place remembers it no more.

But from everlasting to everlasting

the Lord's love is with those who fear him,

and his righteousness with their children's children

 

Second Candle: Pain of Loss

 

We light a second candle mindful of the pain of loss: the loss of relationships,

the loss of jobs, or the loss of health. As we gather up the pain of the past,

we offer it to you, O God, asking that into our open hands you will place the

gift of peace.

Hold, help, heal us, O God.

 

All sing: O come, O Bright and Morning Star, and bring us comfort from afar!

Dispel the shadows of the night. And tum our darkness into light.

Rejoice! Rejoice! lmmanuel shall come to you, O lsrael.

 

(silence)

 

Word of Comfort: Psalm 139:11-12 (NLT)

I could ask the darkness to hide me

and the light around me to become night but

even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

Darkness and light are the same to you.

 

Third Candle: Pain of Our Loss

 

We light a third candle to remember ourselves and the pain of our loss in this

Christmas season. We pause and remember the past weeks, months and,

for some of us, years of difficult times. We remember the poignancy of

memories, the grief, the sadness, the hurts, the fears.

We remember that the dawn overcomes the darkness.

AII sing: O come, O Key of David, come and open wide our heavenly home

Make safe for us the heavenward road and bar the way to death's abode.

Rejoice! Rejoice! lmmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

 

(silence)

 

Word of Comfort: Psalm 34.19 (NLT)

The righteous person faces many troubles,

but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

 

Fourth Candle: Remember others suffering with us

 

We light a fourth candle to remember all who have shared in our sorrow. We

thank you for their compassion, for their presence with us in times when our

hurt went deeper than words could express. We remember that you, Lord,

came to sympathize with our weakness and to carry our sorrows.

We thank you for those who held us and pointed to your light.

 

All sing: O come, O King of Nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind.

Bid all our sad divisions cease and be yourself our King of Peace.

Rejoicel Rejoice! lmmanuel shall come to you, O lsrael.

 

(silence)

 

Word of Comfort: Matthew 5:4 and 7

Blessed are those who mourn, for the will be comforted.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

 

Prayer of Comfort

 

We Hear God's Word

Scripture: John 1:1-5

Message: Christmas in the Darkness and Storm

 

We Respond in Hope

 

Prayer of Hope

 

God of compassion, we come again to you as Christmas nears. We grieve over

what might have been. A death or loss or struggle tarnishes our experience of

this season. We feel cut off from joy, lost from what we once felt, wondering if

the light will indeed come. We find ourselves adrift, alone, lost. Lord, help us

find our way.

Loving God, hear our prayer,

and in your merciful love, answer.

The Advent season reminds us of what used to be but is no more. Memories of

what was, and the fear of what may be, keep us from the joy of today. All around

are the sounds of celebration, but joy eludes us. Be near us this night.

Loving God, hear our prayer,

and in your merciful love, answer.

In this season of Advent waiting, we bring you those sorrows and longings too

deep for words. Hear the groans of our heart and tend us with your comfort and

grace.

Loving God, hear our prayer,

and in your merciful love, answer.

In the silence, we bring you our own words of need, our own words of hope.

 

(silence)

 

ln this dark night, let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives

rest in you. ln the quietness of this night, may your peace enfold us and all dear

to us, and all who have no peace. Keep us in the truth that the night is nearly

over; the day is almost here. We look expectantly to a new day, to new joys.

Loving God, hear our prayer,

and in your merciful love, answer.

 

Word of Hope: Psalm 33:22,lsaiah 40:31and Romans 15:13

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Lighting of Candles and Song of Peace: Silent Night

While we sing Silent Night,

ail who wish are invited forward to prayerfully light a candle -

in memory, in honor, in gratitude, in hope, in love-

inviting the love of Christ to dispel our darkness.

 

Passing of the Peace

Benediction: 1 Peter 5:10-11

And the God of atl grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after

you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you

strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

Guide

Diane, this sounds like a deeply meaningful worship service. Thank you for sharing it here. 

Community Builder

 A little late in the day for our Worship Committee.  We've already done our Holiday planning.  We would need this in mid-November already.  But I'll forward this to the other committee members anyway.