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Blue Christmas? Hope this Helps.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, December 22, 2014

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Blue Christmas? Hope this Helps.

We had a Blue Christmas service tonight. In the freezing rain, and muck, and generally nasty stuff. Appropriate, indeed, for a service meant for people who are having a difficult time with the holidays. (Although the nasty weather probably convinced some people to stay at home instead of venturing out.)

Chaplain Sarah and I led the service. Even though we were few, gathered in the St. Luke’s Church sanctuary, I hope God’s presence made itself felt in a special way this evening.

When I was in my first unit of chaplain internship, Father Romy served as the chaplain supervisor. (A superb supervisor, by the way!) He didn’t always say this, but a common response from him was, “I hope that was helpful.” And—that would usually be the capper on top of some penetrating insight that he offered to the group of interns.

At the service tonight, we read a Psalm that is not typically read. Psalm 77, a psalm that can be viewed as disgruntled, almost despairing, in selected verses. We read Eugene Peterson’s modern translation from The Message, which gave the psalm a particularly poignant angle. The sharing time in the service became one of the high points, as well. And the candle-lighting at the end? All in all, a time to be sad together, to grieve together, to be quiet—together.

Just so, I hope and pray that the service tonight (Sarah’s offering and my offering) was helpful, encouraging, and a comfort to those who were there. God, in Your mercy, be with all those who grieve, who cry, who are lonely or depressed tonight.

@chaplaineliza

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2 thoughts on “Blue Christmas? Hope this Helps.

  1. Thank you for sharing – I’ve just read Psalm 77 in The Message to get a sense of your service. Was the sharing time focused around a particular question? Did people light candles individually or did you pass the light/flame from person to person? I’ve never led a Blue Christmas service and am curious about the details.

    • Hello, April. Yes, the Blue Christmas service was moving and meaningful. The weather outside was yucky–cold, high 30’s (so no ice) but the damp and cold went right down to the bone. Nevertheless, we had nine people attend on a Monday night. My friend Chaplain Sarah and I led the service, and it was quiet and reflective. I had several people tell me that the service meant a great deal to them. I also had three particularly meaningful and poignant conversations after the service, too. I am encouraged, and I probably will plan for another Blue Christmas service next year.

      The sharing time focused on the question “What does a Blue Christmas mean to you?” I told people that there were all kinds of reasons people could be sad/grieving/lonely/depressed at this difficult time of the year. We got some really great back=and-forth sharing and cross-talk going! Then Sarah and I took turns lighting the Advent wreath candles after my brief message on Psalm 77, and we had the ushers (my high school aged son and his two friends) pass out small votive candles. The people were invited to come forward to the small table where the wreath was, in front of the chancel area, light the votive candles, and place them around the wreath.

      I can send you the complete service material, if you would like. Thanks for asking about the service! God’s blessings to you and your family for 2015.

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