I wanted to share with you my readings and order of service for the Blue Christmas Service tonight.
Although you may not be able to attend the service in person, you can still share in this time of Worship Through Lament from your home. This is a service of reflection on loss and the hope we find in the light of Christ. For so many of us grief is a reality for our Christmas season this year, and it is not out of place to acknowledge it. It is good for us to allow Jesus who was born Emmanuel- to be God with us in the sadness too.
This service can be modified as you wish. It can be simply read through, or you can participate in sitting with an empty chair and lighting candles- or you can even add contemplative music to your experience. The specifics are not as important as simply taking the time to be with God even in the midst of your sorrow.
I pray that this may be an opportunity to find comfort and peace this holiday season.
With Blessings to you all,
(Portions of this service come from a liturgy written by Rev. Timothy Sexton)
Welcome to the Blue Christmas Service or When Christmas Hurts Service- it takes place on the longest night of the year (in the northern hemisphere) to remind us that Jesus was born Emmanuel- God with us. He is with us in the joy and celebration of the holiday season, but also with us in the darkness and lament that this season may bring. You will notice the empty chair that we have near the candles in the front of the room. This chair represents the loss that you may bring here tonight. Loss of a person through death, illness, distance, the current health restrictions, or a broken relationship. It may also represent another kind of loss, loss of a dream, job, trust, source of comfort. Tonight is a time to recognize any loss we may be grieving and to seek comfort for all of the ways Jesus chooses to be with us.
Join me as we share in a prayer of preparation and then have a moment of silent reflection- Spend a moment in prayer and quiet relfection.
I would like to share a scripture of lament from the book of Lamentations. These passages speak the truth that we bear pain and loss while at the same time hold onto the hope of God’s comfort. It is the bearing of these two things, pain AND hope, loss AND comfort, even in the same moment- that we see the depth of His love for us.
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust--
there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.
31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.
Let us take some time to share direct expression of our lament or remembrance. It is good to acknowledge our pain.
Sharing time- Take the opportunity to acknowledge the loss you have experienced. Pray, remember, share your burden, express you pain- God can take all of it.
It is good to share the burdens we carry, to remember that we are not alone, and it is good to also remind ourselves of the light in the darkness and the hope that can be found in Christ.
We take comfort in knowing that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by God, and without God nothing came to be. What came to be through God was life, and this life was the light of the world. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. We remember this as we light the candles.
Light the first candle
We light this first candle to remember those we have loved and lost.
We pause to remember clearly, their faces, their voices, their presence.
We embrace and give thanks for the memories that bind them to us in this season of expectation, when all Creation waits for the Light.
We remember them with love. May God's eternal love surround them.
Light the second candle
We light this second candle to remember the pain of loss:
loss of relationships, loss of trust, loss of jobs, loss of health, loss of faith, the loss of joy. We acknowledge and embrace the pain of the past, and we give it over to God, asking that into our wounded hearts and open hands He will place the gift of peace.
We are reminded that through God all things are possible- even peace in the midst of pain.
Light the third candle
We light this third candle to remember ourselves this Christmas time.
We pause and remember the past weeks, months, and for some maybe even years, that have been heavy with burdens.
We accept and lay before, God, the sharpness of memory, the sadness and grief, the hurt and fear, the anger and pain.
We accept and lay before Him the ways we feel we have fallen short, and the times we have spent blaming ourselves.
We accept and lay before God the time we have walked alone, in darkness.
We remember that though we have journeyed far, and while lost we may have even turned away from the light, BUT the light itself has not failed.
We remember that though winter is here and though the night is dark, dawn brings the light.
Light the fourth candle.
We light this fourth candle to remember faith, the gift of light and hope that God offers to us in the stories of his birth and of Christmas, a time which also began in abandonment, insecurity, and humbleness- in a time of war and in a poor stable.
We remember that the loving God, who is the light shining in the darkness, came to share this life with us and he promises us comfort and peace.
We remember the One who shares our burdens, who shows us the way to the Light, and who journeys with us into all our tomorrows.
I would like to share the words from the song Come Thou Long Expected Jesus- A well known hymn with additional lyrics from Meredith Andrews
Come, thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel's Strength and Consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart
Born Thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne
You draw the hearts of shepherds
You draw the hearts of kings
Even as a baby, You were changing everything
You called me to Your Kingdom
Before Your lips could speak
And even as a baby, You were reaching out for me
And now we are awaiting
The day of Your return
When every eye will see You
As heaven comes to earth
Until the sky is opened
Until the trumpet sounds
The bride is getting ready
The church is singing out
Come, thou long expected Jesus
Born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in thee
Come, thou long expected King
Closing prayer of sending with hope and comfort- Jesus does not leave us in a place of sorrow, He stays with us and as we step forward he walks with us into a new day of hope.
Join me as a I share the prayer of hope in sending:
God of wisdom, mercy and compassion,
As the nights have grown longer, so has darkness grown and wrapped itself around our hearts.
In this season of the longest night, we ask your healing blessings upon all that we carry in our hearts --
sorrow we fear may never end, wounds we cannot even put into words.
Lord, hear our prayer, And in Your merciful love, answer.
There are those among us who are grieving over what might have been.
Loss has changed our experience of Christmas.
Something precious has gone away from us in this life.
We are weary from the journey, and we come to you seeking rest, peace, and shelter from the storm. Lord, hear our prayer. And in Your merciful love, answer.
Grant us all that we need to comfort us as we journey through this Christmas season.
We ask that you shelter and sustain all those of us, both here and throughout the world, who wander, want, weep, or are heavy laden.
We ask that that we may be lifted up in courage and journey on in Your peace.
With celebration all around us- memories of what was, and fears of what may be, weigh heavy on our hearts.
Please hold us close in your embrace, be near to us this night, until the light returns and morning comes.
Help us reach out together for the light of faith, for renewal and recovery and a new day coming.
Grant us hope that may rest in our hearts, and let it drive away the darkness.
Give us your light in the season of night
we thank you for your constant love and for the blessings of this day, help us to see the gifts and wonders you do give each day, do not let them be hidden in darkness.
We know that even when we cannot see or feel you, still you are there.
Help us to remember you and to listen for your voice in the words of family, friends, and strangers.
Kindle our hearts and awaken hope, that we may draw closer to you as you reveal yourself to us.
Let the light of your holy Spirit shine like these candles in the darkness,
lighting the way for all who feel lost.
Another day will come, we do not know what it might bring , but make us ready, God, for whatever it may be.
Let us say:
If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.
If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.
If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.
And if I am to do nothing, help me do it gallantly.
Make these words more than words, and give us the Spirit of your Peace.
In all of this we pray
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains--
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip--
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you--
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm--
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Blessing as you leave- May The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace, both now and forever more. Amen.
The peace of Jesus Christ be always with you.
Meet the Pastor
Pastor Heather and her family have been a part of the Cold Lake Community since December 2006 and she has been the pastor at Community Baptist Church since September 2017.