Every year can bring a share of painful separation, loss, and fear, but the words Blue Christmas might ring especially true as 2020 draws to a close. For many, this has been a year marked with more questions, anxiety, and darkness, than joy.
Perhaps you and yours can find solace in a Blue Christmas service that is reflective as well as healing and hopeful. Blue Christmas services acknowledge the situation we find ourselves in, offering a more quiet, somber experience with scripture, music, and meditations or sermons that focus on the comfort God offers during dark times.
Blue Christmas is also called the Longest Night in the Western Christian Advent tradition, marking the longest night of the year. Generally, this falls on or about December 21, the Winter Solstice, and interestingly enough it coincides with the traditional feast day for Saint Thomas the Apostle. This can provide an invitation to make a connection between Thomas’s struggle to believe the tale of Jesus’ resurrection and the struggle with darkness and grief faced by those living with loss.
Not everyone in our congregation and community feels up and cheery for the holidays. Those who are grieving or in some kind of pain find forced joyfulness difficult to muster and for this reason, there is a growing attentiveness to the needs of people who are blue at Christmas. Increasingly churches are creating sacred space for people living through dark times. If you are looking for resources and ideas about how to plan such a service for your setting, or if you just want to know what a “Blue Christmas Service” is, this Building Faith link should be helpful.
Also, music is therapeutic. Let these songs and visual accompaniments help soothe the soul.
- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by Naomi Raine & Nate Moore
- In the Bleak Midwinter by James Taylor
- Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence by ChurchFolk Project
- Or, a much older version of this ancient Greek Chant ~ Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence (Σιγησάτω πᾶσα σάρξ βροτεία) dating all the way back to 200 AD. Let all mortal flesh keep silence is an ancient chant of Eucharistic devotion based on words from Habakkuk 2:20, “Let all the earth keep silence before him.” In modern times, the Ralph Vaughan Williams arrangement of a translation from the Greek by Gerard Moultrie to the tune of “Picardy”, a French medieval folk melody, popularized the hymn among other Christian congregations.