Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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I’m no Grinch. I love Christmas. Most of all I love the promise that just as Immanuel came into this world 2000 years ago, how much more will he appear again to make all things new. And yeah, I like all the other stuff too like family feasts, special worship services, Christmas lights, ornaments, and presents.
But for some people, many people, Christmas magnifies their pain. Broken relationships, the death of loved ones, health problems, and long winter days feel even darker these days. That level of pain floating around in our communities presents an important outreach opportunity. Along with invitations to Christmas programs and advent services, consider hosting a service to minister to the people in your community who are hurting. It may be the first time in a long time that they feel like coming to a Christmas service.

Both One Mind Mental Illness Ministries  and Mental Health Ministries have assembled some very fine resources for worship and other ways to minister to people living a “Blue Christmas.” Don’t let the titles of these ministries throw you.

A service of lament during the Christmas season can minister to the dark places in many people’s hearts. People need an opportunity “to sing and to pray. . . . to offer up the pain, the loneliness, the sad and dark memories, and the anxiety and fear to the one whose birth we eagerly await…Jesus Christ. . . . [to] find hope and peace in this service and comfort in knowing that you are not alone.”

Besides worship resources, One Mind Mental Illness Ministries includes a number of additional resources that minister directly to people who are hurting. These pages could easily be printed, copied, and made available to congregation members.

Does your church offer a service of lament during this season? What did you do? How has that been received?

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Thanks, Mark, for bringing this up. I agree, this kind of service can be a way of welcoming people living with a lot of pain. I attended one in our community several years. It ministered to deep needs I had at the time.