(image courtesy of looptt.com)
This past weekend I had the honor in participating in what was called a Blue Christmas Service at one of the local churches here in Fulton. No, there weren’t any Elvis impersonators doing their take of the song by the same title. Rather, the gathering gave an opportunity for the community to come together to acknowledge that the Christmas season isn’t filled with hope, gifts and carols for everyone. Many folks are preparing to face the holidays with the loss of someone significant in their life. The many and various problems in life make can this time of the year more stressful than fun filled.
Seven different ministries worked together to make the Blue Christmas service happen. The host church, whose pastor had the vision to offer this, provided a warm and inviting atmosphere. They also provided much of the music for the evening, while a member from a different church ministered some special music with a truly beautiful voice.
A pastor from one of our Methodist congregations delivered a heart-felt message of hope and understanding to those assembled. These weren’t merely words either, as the speaker was trying to cope with this upcoming Christmas without his Mom, who passed away just prior to the new year.
Still other pastors were present to listen to and pray with individuals who desired this type of personal ministry. From beginning to end, the entire evening provided a great deal of comfort for those assembled, allowing people the chance to be vulnerable in their pain when seemingly the whole world around them revels in the excitement of the upcoming Christmas Day celebrations.
I share this account with you, Faithful Reader, for several reasons. One is the hope that like me, you will become more sensitive to those around you who may be struggling at this time simply by thinking about this. Maybe in the not so distant past you have experienced a blue Christmas and perhaps you may be just the person to lend a listening ear to someone who is where you were.
The other reason I write this is for the person(s) who at this moment are grieving instead of making merry. To you, dear one, I write so that you know you are not alone. Though I cannot simply make the pain of your loss disappear, I can offer the comfort of one who has been there. In time, the memories of good times over the holiday season will begin to get at least equal billing in your heart to the pain you are now feeling. For me, those recollections have helped to ease, but not erase, the emptiness that I felt. As I extend that hope to you, may I also encourage you to find a trusted someone that you can pour your heart out to. As painful as being in a blue type of Christmas place can be, it is compounded by loneliness and isolation. There are many who struggle(d) as you are in this season. Together, we can not only make it through, but we can come to know at least some of the joy this season is to be truly about.