Blue Christmas

Author - First Name: 
Rick
Author - Last Name: 
Marshall

A Service of Remembrance for the Time of Advent and Christmas

Christmas can be a painful time for some. It may be the first Christmas without a loved family member who has recently died; it may be a time that has always been difficult. The constant refrains on radio and television, in shopping malls and churches, about the happiness of the season, about getting together with family and friends, reminds many people of what they have lost. The anguish of the death of a loved one can make us feel alone in the midst of the celebrating and joy. We need the space and time to acknowledge our sadness; we need to know that we are not alone. We need encouragement to live the days ahead of us.

There are times when life is good and beautiful, and celebration is appropriate. But there are also times of distress and loss. During those times we sing sad songs of lament, protest and complaint about the chaos and harshness that life can sometimes be for us. We often feel afraid, angry, ashamed. Putting words to this season can often be difficult. But we do this together in our address to God.

Words of Welcome

Call to Worship  Psalm 13:3–6
One: Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the
        sleep of death; lest my enemy say “I have prevailed over him”; lest my foes
        rejoice because I am shaken.

All:    We come to you O Lord, seeking answers to our questions.
        We come to you O God, because you are the Creator.

One: But I have trusted your steadfast love;
        my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
        I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

All:    We come looking for a song to sing;
       We wait for your voice to call us from beyond our fear.

Opening Prayer

Music

Prayer of Lament  Psalm 13, 74 and 79

One: Do not remember against us the sins of our ancestors;
       let your compassion come quickly to meet us, for we are brought very low.
       Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name;
       deliver us, and forgive us, for your name’s sake.
       Why should the world say, “Where is their God?”

All:   Sometimes our world seems dark and we feel alone.
       We grasp for help,
       often seeking solutions that end up hurting us even more.
       Hear our cry, O God of mercy.

One: How long, Lord? Will you always forget me?
       How long will you hide your face from me?
       How long must I scheme just to survive, my mind in anguish every day?
       How long will my enemy rise against me?

All:   Sometimes things fall apart; we are hurt and confused.
       We look for guidance and turn to those who lead us astray.
       See our dilemma, O Lord of hope!

One: Respect your covenant; for the dark places of the land are full of violence.
       Do not let the humble be disgraced; let the poor and needy praise your
       name. Arise, O God, plead my cause; remember how fools scoff at you all day!
       Do not forget the cry of your foes, in constant uproar, rebelling against you.

All:   We are tempted to trust only ourselves; we are angry and fearful.
       We call on you, even demand that you hear our prayers.
       For you are the one who created us.

Assurance  Psalm 46:1–5

One: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
       Therefore we will not fear if the earth should change,
       though the mountains shake in the middle of the sea;
       Though its waves roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its   chaos.
       There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
       the Holy home of the Most High.
       God is in the middle of her, she shall not be moved;
       God will help her quickly.

Scripture ReadingPsalm 13

Meditation                                                                

A Liturgy of Remembering

(Using the Advent Wreath Candles)
One: The first candle we light is to remember those whom we have loved and
       lost. We pause to remember their name, their face, their voice, the
       memory that binds them to us in this season.

(Pause while the first candle is lit)

All:   May God’s eternal love surround them.

One: The second candle we light is to redeem the pain of loss, the loss of
       someone who was very important to us, part of our lives, part of our
       own selves. We pause to gather up the pain of the past and offer it to God,
       asking that from God’s hands we receive the gift of peace.

(Pause while the second candle is lit)

All:   Refresh, restore, renew us O God, and lead us into your future.

One: The third candle we light is to remember ourselves this Christmas time.
       We pause and remember these past weeks   and months, the disbelief, the anger, the
       down times, the poignancy of reminiscing, the hugs and handshakes of family and friends,
       all those who stood with us. We give thanks for all the support we have known.

(Pause while the third candle is lit)
         
All:   Let us remember that dawn defeats darkness, life overcomes death.

One: The fourth candle is lit to remember our faith and the gift of
       hope which the Christmas story offers to us. We remember that God,
       who shares our life, promises us a place and time of no more pain and suffering.

(Pause while the fourth candle is lit)

All:      Let us remember the One Who shows the way,
          Who brings the truth and Who bears the light.

(The Christ candle will remain unlit as a sign of waiting for a future
 that is yet unknown to us, from which God beckons us)

Moment of Silent Reflection and Prayer

Ceremony of Remembrance

(Those who have ornaments may place them on the tree during this time of silence.)

Music

Pastoral Prayer

Prayer of Blessing  Psalm 73

One: Whenever my mind is bitter, or I feel myself cut to the heart, then I am foolish,
       without understanding, as dumb as a cow in relation to you.

All:   But for me, the nearness of God is best;
       Lord God, I have made you my refuge, that I may speak of all your deeds.

One: For I am always with you: You hold my hand in yours.
       You guide me with your own counsel; you lead me toward your glory.

All:   But for me, the nearness of God is best;
       Lord God, I have made you my refuge, that I may speak of all your deeds.

One: Whom do I have in heaven but you?
       My body and mind will come to an end;
       but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

All:   But for me, the nearness of God is best;
       Lord God, I have made you my refuge, that I may speak of all your deeds.
       We go with the peace this brings. Amen.

Benediction