The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land
of deep darkness –
on them light has shined.
There have been many ways to enjoy the holiday season this year, the annual shopping trip to Chicago, baking cookies, times with family and friends and listening to my favorite Christmas music. However, one of the most meaningful experiences is being a part of the Blue Christmas service at our church on the eve of the longest night – the Winter Solstice…
Two large Christmas trees trimmed with white lights and gold ornaments, flank the candlelit altar. The advent wreath has three of its four candles lit and the flames from the multiple votive candles illuminate the dim sanctuary. An acoustic guitarist plays as people gather, for this “Blue Christmas” service, on the eve of the Winter Solstice, this longest night.
In the midst of this Christmas season of joy and celebration, those who arrive tonight are grieving, or experiencing one of life’s many losses. Tonight we ask them to reflect on what they are struggling with, what or whom they are grieving – those things that are making their nights long, their Christmas “blue.”
This service allows us to come together, to pray and meditate. We try to remember the true light that comes to shine in our darkness. Our prayer for those present is that as the days begin to get longer; their healing will start to take place.
This contemplative and solemn service includes silent reflection, prayer, responsive psalm, inspirational readings and a liturgy of remembering where candles are lit. As I see the faces of those sitting in the pews, I feel blessed.
Many of those gathered have shared their stories with me; they show their vulnerability and are open to receive help. My grief journey that began when my first husband died almost 24 years ago equips me to accompany others, and I offer this tonight.
The gift that returns to me may come months or years later. It comes as I watch these survivors continue to recreate themselves and redefine their lives over time. I long for the Christmas message to come to each of them in the message of a baby. The Christ child that brings LIGHT to shine into their darkness.
Peace, Joy and Hope; my wish for all those who grieve this holiday season.