By Barbie Perks —
Close on 20 years ago, I came across the Blue Christmas concept in a Methodist Women’s magazine that was being published in South Africa. The idea resonated deeply as we had suffered a number of losses that year in our church community: deaths, divorces, jobs and relationships. I contacted our pastor and suggested we hold a service the week before Christmas to recognise the losses in our community and he agreed, with the proviso that I organise it! I am always grateful to him for the trust and confidence he had in me as a person, and that service birthed what is now an integral part of the church’s Christmas calendar.
After that first service, we renamed it our Christmas of Hope service, a time when we can focus on caring for those who have suffered loss in any way, recognise the brokenness that grief brings, and give them hope to face the future, confident of the support of the church community, and with the knowledge that Christ is with them in all aspects of their lives. The liturgy, combined with an invitation to come forward to light a candle in remembrance of what we have lost, is particularly comforting to many.
What we need most when life is at its darkest point, is that flicker of light, that hope that things will eventually get better. Sometimes it takes a long time, but when we hold on to Christ as our anchor through it all, God makes a way and we can move forward.
I returned to my home church for a visit last week, and was reminded of this service again, and how poignant it is for me as I am now the one walking this road of uncertainty. This Christmas will be a very different one, in a different home, in a different country, among different friends. Thankfully, some family members will be joining us and I am sure it will be a wonderful week. The amazing truth of it all, is that no matter the where, the why and the how, the re-telling of the birth of our Saviour is a constant source of comfort and hope.
A favourite Christmas carol is “We Three Kings” – we sing of the star and the light that leads us, and there are times when that light is literally all we have to hang onto in the darkness of grief and sorrow.
Two songs I found online that are very meaningful are
May you be blessed this Christmas. May you find hope to see you through the difficult hours.