We are all familiar with the idea of a White Christmas, with all its saccharine sweetness:
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
But did you know there’s also a song by Elvis called Blue Christmas
I’ll have a Blue Christmas without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me.
We may not be feeling lonely at like Elvis is, but at least his song is nearer to our human experience than Bing Crosby’s. Christmas, we are constantly told, is a time for happiness, joy and togetherness. Sadly, for many, those messages which bombard our media now from mid-November at least, Christmas is more about the absence of those things rather than their presence. Christmas is more Blue than White. The Advent and Christmas seasons can remind us of loved ones or relationships we have lost. The sights and smells of the weeks approaching Christmas, rather than bring joy and delight, can bring sadness and grief.
Churches in the United States have been acknowledging this for some time. They have special Blue Christmas services, sometimes held on 21st December, the Longest Night of the year. Readings and prayers focus on the “light in the darkness,” the hope of our faith, not a hope that removes the suffering, but a hope that enables us to acknowledge our true feelings and walk through the dark days without fear. This special service usually includes an opportunity to light a candle in memory of loved ones who have died.
The way our calendar falls in 2017 allows us at St Mary’s to try out a Blue Christmas service this year, which we will hold on the morning of Christmas Eve*, Sunday 24th December, at 11am. The service can include familiar words, with the focus on Jesus the Light of the World, with times of silence and music to aid our thinking and praying. We celebrate the Eucharist simply, to aid us and offer up our prayers to the one who carries all our burdens, who knows them as the child of the manger, and carries them as the Saviour on the Cross.
So please do come along that morning: it would be easy to skip the service because of the Christmas Services later in the day. But also feel free to invite people who may not usually come to church but who might find a quieter, more reflective service brings the peace and the hope of God, alongside the rest of the things that can so easily crowd out the difficulty of the season.
Have a happy, peaceful and hope-filled Christmas. Simon
Christmas Eve, you may not be aware, is a fast day in the Church of England, just like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday…hold off the mince pies and mulled wine until after Midnight Mass.