Celebrating a Blue Christmas/ Longest Night

by Christine Sine

Large candle

My final Advent/Christmas resource list is for a Blue Christmas celebration an increasingly popular celebration at this season

For many this season is anything but cheerful, even when we have not had to put up with non stop Christmas music for days before hand. For all of us who have lost loved ones for whom we still grieve , lost a job, are struggling financially or with illness this not an easy season.  And for those who have lost their houses and livelihoods due to the devastation of Hurricane Haiyan, the bushfires in Australia and other disasters this year, the season will probably be anything but cheerful, so why do we try to cover our pain and grief with Yuletide cheer?

Many churches have begun to recognize that Festivals of Carols, celebrations of Christmas, and children’s pageants do not meet everyone’s needs. To fill this gap churches offer a Blue Christmas service, a Service of Solace or Longest Night. People who are not having a very merry Christmas and friends who support them are invited to come and sit with one another in a liturgy that speaks of the love of God for the grieving.

First I have written my own prayer to help me through this season as I continue to grieve the loss of my mother.

On this long dark night we await the coming of Christ.

We long for the light of his presence,

With us and in us.

When our souls are deeply troubled,

and our hearts break with the weight of sorrow,

may our grief be seasoned with love,

and our sorrow be buoyed by hope.

In our our times of God-forsakenness and estrangement,

May we gaze on the innocent One,

made perfect through suffering.

and see in him our vulnerable God,

who saves in weakness and pain.

May our suffering empty us of pride,

and lead us to true joy,

our only security,

in Christ the infinite depths

of God’s grace.

Here are some great resources that could help if you want to plan or participate in a Blue Christmas service:

Text of the Week has some great resources for planning a Blue Christmas service. (scroll down the Advent resources until you get to Blue Christmas).

I particularly enjoyed this service from the United Methodist Church

re:Worship always has great resources and this list for Blue Christmas does not disappoint.

This site has some good song resources for your Blue Christmas celebration

I also like this simple but powerful Blue Christmas Service and the ideas for how to use it.

Another good outline for a Blue Christmas service.

This powerful liturgy was originally published in Candles and Conifers.

And this beautiful Liturgy of Remembrance for Advent and Christmas.

Let me end with this beautiful prayer by Ted Loder which appears in Guerrilas of Grace 

O God of all seasons and senses,
grant us the sense of your timing
to submit gracefully and rejoice quietly in the turn of the seasons.

In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of endings;
children growing, friends leaving, loved ones dying,
grieving over,
grudges over,
blaming over,
excuses over.

O God, grant us a sense of your timing.
In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of beginnings;
that such waitings and endings may be the starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth what is ready to be born—
something right and just and different,
a new song, a deeper relationship, a fuller love—
in the fullness of your time.

O God, grant us the sense of your timing.

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