Here is my thinking for a Blue Christmas Service, it acknowledges that we not only live in troubling times, but also that for many people Christmas is not an easy time of year, that might be through grief or illness or simple loneliness, it is quite simple and offered as an anti-dote to the consumerism and the mad and at times unholy feast that Christmas can become:
A Blue Christmas Service: Time out from tinsel
Lay out: Chairs ( if possible) are set out in a circle, cushions may also be provided for those who would rather sit on the floor, on the centre of the circle there may be a low table/ or a centerpiece as described:
(Four blue candles are laid out with one white Christ Candle in the centre, also there might be some newspaper clippings, some t-lights ( in a sand tray) a map; local or global, pictures/ photos… and post-it notes and pens, a crib is set to one side with strips of cloth laying around it )
At least 4 readers and a leader will be required, you make need a Cantor to lead the Taize Chant/s
Other thoughts, tissues might be needed and one or two folk to be aware/ hold the space for those who might need a bit more space.
We gather on this the longest of nights, bringing with us our doubts, our fears, our griefs and our own darkness.
We come to pray for ourselves, for one another and for this complex world in all of it’s beauty and horror.
We come not because we do not celebrate the light that has come, but because we are sometimes overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by a sense that all is not as it should be, overwhelmed by the hate that seems to rip our world apart, and overwhelmed by grief, both for ourselves and others.
Yet we come seeking the one to whom darkness is as bright as the noon day, the one from who we are never separated, and whose love reaches out to us gently and softly, with compassion and understanding.
We come just as we are because we can come no other way. Amen
Carol: In the bleak mid-winter
Leader: (referring to the Christ candle:
In the centre of this circle (or table) we light the Christ candle, remembering that Jesus Christ is always in the centre of our lives. He hears our cries, he knows our hearts and, in all our thoughts, questions and emotions, he offers us hope and healing.
Leader lights the Christ Candle Leader:
In the gentle light of this candle of hope let us hear some words of Scripture that from them we might draw comfort and strength:
Reader: Reading Matthew 11: 28-30
Listen: Comfort ye my people (The Many)- or some other piece of music
Reader: Reading John 1: 6-14
Hymn: Listen: Holy is your name (The Many)- or some other piece of music
We light the other candles and make our prayers:
Leader; Acknowledging the light that shines in the darkness we come and even in our despair and grief, with our fears and our questions about our lives and the life of the world, the God of love meets us here, and so we light these candles from the Christ candle in hope that the light will shine in the darkness.
We light these candles for our own needs. We light these candles for the needs of the world.
We light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories and one for our love.
Taize Chant: Our darkness is never darkness to you Lord/ Within our darkest night
Reader 1: This candle represents our Grief. We own the pain of loss, loss of loved ones, loss of dreams that have gone unfulfilled, loss of hopes that may have evaporated in despair.
Reader lights a candle………….a brief silence follows
Reader 2: This candle represents our courage. It symbolizes the courage to confront our doubts, our sorrow, our grief and our despair, to comfort each other, to share our thoughts and feelings honestly and openly.
Reader lights a candle………..a brief silence follows
Reader 3: This candle represents our memories. For the times, we laughed together, cried together, were angry at each other or overjoyed with each other. We light this candle for the memories of perhaps of a time when sorrow had not entered our lives.
Reader lights a candle………..a brief silence follows
Reader 4: This candle represents our love. The love we have given, and the love we have received. The love that has gone unacknowledged and unfelt, and the love that has been shared in times of joy and sorrow.
Reader lights a candle……………..a brief silence follows
Leader: You are invited to come forward to light one of the votive candles and use the other images and words in the centre to make your prayers , you may wish to speak the name or the event if you wish to do so as you light the candle/ candles, you may wish to pause to write a prayer on one of the post-it notes/ use the newspaper clippings or map as a focus.
This may take some time and space should be given for people to make their prayers…. Other creative prayer focuses could be offered.
The Taize Chant/s is/ are repeated.
When all people have had the opportunity to make their prayers, the leader continues…..
Leader: This night, this longest of nights we can have hope because we can know we are not alone, in Christ the creator of the universe comes close to us and invites us to see the wonder of the depths of love that is open to all, even to those who have never felt it, to those who struggle to receive it, and to those who thought they could never love or be loved again. For this he came, bringing light into our darkness.
Let us pray…. Comforting God, wrap us in your presence. With these candles, help us find your light, a light that will guide us day-by-day, step by-step, as we try to live life fully and wholly. We cherish the even the smallest flicker of light that sparks even in our darkness. We pray now for one another, for this world, and we dare to lay our doubts and despair at your feet as cloth for the cradle of life, as we speak to the still small voice within calling us to life in all its fullness. Now comfort us. Encourage us. Empower us. AMEN.
As we sing our final carol you are invited if you wish to, to lay a piece of cloth in the cradle, you may wish to lay it for hope, or as a symbol of griefs and pains laid down if only for a brief time.
Carol: “Silent Night, Holy Night”