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Blue Christmas service- your suggestions/advice??


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As I stated in another thread, I am the main organizer for a special "Blue Christmas" service at my small country church, especially for folks who are stuggling with loss in their lives that make the holidays rough. We held this service once before (in 2009), but being our first try at it, it wasn't as sort of clunky and probably a little overloaded with stuff, where I'd found SO many different ideas online and tried to fit them all in! I'm trying to make this year's service better: I'm emailing back & forth with a lady in another state who organizes one of these for her church; but I'd also like the perspective of potential attendees...


So as I plan this year's service, I'd like to hear from fellow GD members:

* If you've ever attended a service like this before, what part(s) of it really stuck with you (either in a good -or bad- way)? Was there anything you'd liked to have seen added or handled differently?

* If you've never been to a service like this, what would be some things you would or wouldn't be interested in (and comfortable with) seeing, hearing, or doing?

* If you're dealing with loss (or anything that makes the holiday season more painful than pleasant this year), what could be said or done (on paper or online) to make you interested in possibly attending a service like this?


FYI, a brief synopsis of what a Blue Christmas service typically entails: vocal and instrumental music (with or without audience participation), appropriate poetry or prose shared, lighting of symbolic candles (and possibly audience participation in lighting individual candles)... all with the basic of message of acknowledging the pain of loss, but also hope of moving forward with the help of loved ones and the ever-present love of Christ.


Thanks for any and all help, and my thoughts & prayers are with you all!

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Well, this is a funny place to have a liturgy discussion. :D If you are interested, there are preaching & liturgy email discussion groups where you can pick the brains of other worship leaders. I can recommend a couple to you if you'd like.


I have done Blue Christmas/Longest Night services for many years now. They have always been well received, but not always well attended. Don't let that bother you. Depending on your area, 6 -12 people will be all you will have. But for those 6 to 12, you have done a great thing.


Things that help...Don't be afraid of a slow pace, one punctuated with a gentle silence. The calm, peaceful safe place where thoughts and tears can express themselves.

Simple services one with a simple action of remembrance (usually with candles) is very effective. If you are from a liturgical tradition, let the dark blues and purples of advent speak loudly, things feel very dark for some people right now. Acknowledge that darkness. Hope shines like a small light, glowing bright, guiding us from the other side.


Avoid the organist I had a few years ago, who insisted that we were there to "cheer people up" and wanted more joyful christmas hymns sung and not the quieter "depressing" advent and Christmas hymns. (Oy vey was she in denial about the point of having such a service!)


Let scripture speak to the feeling of loss and helplessness/hopelessness that some people are feeling. I remind people that the nativity of Jesus was not the joyful story our Christmas pageants portray....unwed pregnancy, homelessness, persecution and exile (and with it loss of job and home), murder/death of babies, selfish/self-centered politics and unfair taxes etc. And yet our God comes to us in human form and is with us in the midst of all this ....bringing COMFORT as well as joy. Comfort is the Good News at a Blue Christmas Service.


Refreshments after the service are not usually well received. Lots of hugs and listening and an open offer for some 1:1 listening support whenever the worshiper feels they might need it is welcome.


Yes there are alot of wonderful ideas around the internet....poetry, litanies, meditations, music suggestions etc. Don't be afraid to use them. Just remember that there is always "next year". A few things can be helpful as a "take home" item rather than for use in the service. For folks who are grieving, the poem "I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year." has been VERY popular with people in my parishes. It's not very theologically sound (for worship that is) but I defend it under "pastoral care".

(I include it in a "thinking of you at Christmas" grief card I send out to family I know have lost a loved one during the year. That poem alone brings more people to my door, even if only for 5-10 minutes. It helps facilitate the healing. If you are interested in the grief cards, you can order them from Creative Communications, either individually or in a set of 5 cards to be used throughout the first year after a death. (Link below to the shepherd guides cards. Note this is the 'Protestant version' of the site. There is a 'Catholic version' of the site as well. Although many of the resources are exactly the same.)




Hope this helps, at least to get you started. Happy to discuss further if you'd like. :D


Blessings on your ministry


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Thank you, Lisa-- I hadn't been on GottaDeal in a few days (and apparently don't have my email notifications set up right- lol), so I just now saw this! Your advice is basically spot-on with what the wonderful Christian lady in PA that I've been emailing said... So it's great to have her advice and suggestions reaffirmed!!:) I have a rough draft of our service written up (we're having it Dec 23) & am now working on recruiting musicians and readers to help. Please remember us in your prayers!


And if anyone else would still like to share, in answer to my questions in my original email, I would love to hear from you!

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You are most welcome. I will say a prayer that day for your and your worship leaders as well as for those attending.


I work as a chaplain in a hospital now. We are having a service on December 13 in the hospital and I am leading the special candlelight vigil at our infant gardens at the cemetery. (Infant loss families, during the holidays have their own special needs.)


These services are very needed although they speak a message very different from the more popular "prosperity theology" messages that are so abundant these days. Life is not all "happy, happy, joy, joy" but if we speak to the suffering that people are experiencing in the moment, then as the scriptures promise us..."Joy (authentic joy) will come in the morning".

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