GROWING IN WORSHIP PARTICIPATION
ADVENT Idea: Blue Christmas Service
Blue? Yes, blue as in the blues. As in “I am feeling blue.” Not everyone is up and cheery for the Christmas holidays. Dealing with the death of a loved one, facing life after divorce or separation, coping with the loss of a job, living with cancer or some other dis-ease that puts a question mark over the future, and a number of other human situations make parties and joviality painful for many people in our congregations and communities. There is a growing attentiveness to the needs of people who are blue at Christmas. Increasing numbers of churches are creating sacred space for people living through dark times. Such services are reflective, accepting where we really are, and holding out healing and hope.
These services provide an opportunity for community service and connection to those who may be suffering outside the church membership. You may wish to have the service in partnership with a local hospice, funeral home, or hospital auxiliary.
Some churches hold the worship service early in Advent, just as the decorations are being placed and the “holly Jolly” soundtrack of the world is beginning at full blast. Some churches hold a service of worship on the longest night of the year, which falls on or about December 21st, the Winter Solstice. There is an interesting convergence for this day as it is also the traditional feast day for Saint Thomas the Apostle. This linkage invites making some connections between Thomas’s struggle to believe the tale of Jesus’ resurrection, the long nights just before Christmas, and the struggle with darkness and grief faced by those living with loss.
If you are looking for resources and ideas about how to plan such a service for your setting, or if you just want to know what a “Blue Christmas Service” is, the following links should be helpful to you. (Adapted from Discipleship Ministries)
From Discipleship Ministries
A Service of Word and Table for Longest Night/Blue Christmas A new liturgy created
Daniel Benedict, who retired from the staff of the Discipleship Ministries, compiled a set of resources, including hymn suggestions, orders of service, articles, and resources.
Blue Christmas? Or Longest Night Communion? Taylor Burton-Edwards, Director of Worship Resources, Discipleship Ministries, shares thought and questions about Blue Christmas Services.
Blue Christmas, An article by Dean McIntyre, with additional resources.
From Text Week
- “It’s that time again: depression and the holidays,” Barbara Lundblad, ON Scripture, Odyssey Networks, 2014. Video: 5 Things You Didn’t Know about Depression.
- Blue Christmas: For Those Who Find Rejoicing Hard Work, Ann Scull, Mustard Seeds:
- “Blue Christmas: When Your Days Aren’t Merry and Bright,” Carl Gregg, Patheos, 2012.
- Hymn and Song Suggestions, Blue Christmas/Longest Night, 2011, annotated suggestions from Natalie Sims, Singing from the Lectionary.
- “Winter Solstice: Blessing for the Longest Night,” Jan Richardson, 2011. Use of images.
- Words for Worship – Longest Night / Blue Christmas Order of Worship, The Worship Closet, 2011.
- Blue Christmas, Process & Faith.
- “What Christmas Brings,” you tube video, Julian, Fiona, Vianne and Keiran, 2011.
- Blue Christmas/Longest Night Worship With Those Who Mourn, Resources from General Board of Discipleship, United Methodist Church.
- “Comfort Your People, Lord,” Blue Christmas hymn by Carlos Wilton, to the tune of “The Coventry Carol,” 2011.
- “How Can We Sing a Joyful Song?,”an original hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette for a Blue Christmas service to comfort those grieving during the holidays. Tune: O WALY WALY 18.104.22.168 (“Though I May Speak”).
- “Blue Christmas” service, remembering loved ones. Rev. Kent C. Miller, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Denton TX.
- “Blue Christmas,” Ann Fontaine, Episcopal Cafe, 2007.
- A Blue Christmas Service, Whole People of God, Wood Lake Books. Blue Christmas Invitation (.pdf)
From Other Sources
Bulletin Example from Amy Forbus, ARUMC