Hello, my friends. Welcome to this special episode of Let’s Encourage One Another.
Today, I would like to walk with you through a mini Blue Christmas service. While many churches offer these services, traditionally held on December 21, I know that not everyone does, nor can everyone attend.
And, let’s be honest, sometimes we’re not quite ready to name our losses in community with others yet. We’re still trying to come to grips with what has happened.
If the idea of a Blue Christmas service is new to you, you can listen to episode 42 where I talk about it some more, as well as my conversation with Laura Howe on The Care Ministry Podcast. I’ll link to both of those in the show notes below.
But basically, a Blue Christmas service is designed especially for those who have experienced loss or are suffering or lonely during the holiday season. It recognizes that not everything is “merry and bright” during Christmas. And that’s okay. We can name our losses and grief before God and meet Him in that place, even as we cling to the hope that Christmas brings.
So this is what this episode is going to look like: I’m going to lead us through a short Blue Christmas service here on the podcast. I would really encourage you to find a quiet place where you can sit with God. It might be helpful to have a journal, to write down your own thoughts or things that you hear from God during this time. But it’s also perfectly okay to just sit and listen and partake in that way.
I know that some of you might not want to enter into the grief. It might feel like it’s too much. It might feel like you’ll drown. And that’s okay. Trust how God leads you here. You can always check out another episode and then come back to this one whenever you’re ready.
But I also want to let you know that we will enter into the grief together for only 10 or 15 minutes, and then we’ll set it aside and intentionally enter back into daily life. We are creating space here to approach God in our hurt. The structure and time frame of this mini Blue Christmas service help us to enter in gently. Compassionately.
So, when you are ready, find a quiet space where you’re unlikely to get interrupted and let’s get started.
Blue Christmas Service
“Be nearer now, O Christ,
than I have ever known….
Hold me now, O Christ, I am undone—
And I have nowhere I might run but to you.”
(Douglas McKelvey, Every Moment Holy Vol. II)
“I do not remember the last day that I did not cry. It feels like there is a constant lump in my throat, ready to overflow at any given moment. My face is puffy and swollen from the sadness. My skin is dry from the constant flow of hot tears that keep running down my face. I do not remember ever feeling an ache this deep.”
(Morgan Cheek, Even in Darkness)
“Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time. His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. ‘I will go to my grave mourning for my son,’ he would say, and then he would weep.”
(Genesis 37:34-35 NLT)
“When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him… When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.”
(Job 2:11-13 NLT)
Sometimes there are no words for the grief and suffering that we experience. And while there are times that we tear our clothes and throw dust into the air—or in some cases, pound the table or crumble on the floor or wear dark clothes—there are also times when we just sit. Together. In the pain.
And so we sit even now, recognizing that each one of us is suffering. Each one of us is hurting.
And while we hurt individually, we also hurt together.
There is power and comfort simply in naming our losses before God and laying them at His feet. Sometimes we hesitate to do this part. We don’t want to acknowledge our grief. We don’t want to recognize the hurt we are experiencing.
Yet we know that we cannot receive healing until we do so.
And so, with courage, with humility, I invite you to prayerfully hold these questions before God and name—ever so bravely—the suffering you are carrying with you today.
What feels like the heaviest loss to you this holiday season? What grief or loss or suffering or fear are you carrying?
How has your loss impacted your relationships with others? How has it impacted your relationship with your family? How has it impacted your relationship with your friends? How has it impacted your relationship with God?
Are there any so-called “smaller losses” you are experiencing because of the “big loss”? For example, has the loss of a loved one also caused a disruption in your weekly routines or the loss of a home? Or has the loss of a friend also caused a loss of trust? Or has the loss of health also caused the loss of employment? Name each of these losses—big and small—before God.
What is God’s invitation to you in the midst of your grief and suffering? What does He want you to know? What does He want you to do?
“On this long dark night we await the coming of Christ.
We long for the light of his presence,
With us and in us.
When our souls are deeply troubled,
and our hearts break with the weight of sorrow,
may our grief be seasoned with love,
and our sorrow be buoyed by hope.”
(Christine Sine, godspacelight.com)
“The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
(Lamentations 3:19-23 NLT)
“Hold me close, O Christ, and show me
your face even in this place of lingering
loss; even in this season that has become
a receptacle of past sorrows…
Lead me, O Lord, through this layered
confusion of celebration and lament,
of things present, and things past.
Let me make of this day a new thing…
And today let me learn again how
your grace will be always
sufficient to my need; your comfort
sufficient to my sorrow; your presence
sufficient to my loss.”
(Douglas McKelvey, Every Moment Holy Vol. II)
“A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:4 NLT)
My friends, we have taken some time to mourn together, to name our losses and hurts before the Lord. Perhaps even to cry together with Him. And while we will never forget our losses, let us still dare to hope, knowing that Christ is faithful. This His grace is enough. His comfort is enough. His presence is enough.
As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego say to the king, may we also say to our grief and suffering:
“If you throw us in the fire [in the pit of grief and suffering and loss], the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace…. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference…”
(Daniel 3:17-18 MSG, modifications mine)
We will still worship Him.
We will still worship You, Lord.
We will still worship You.
Linger with God
Alright, my friends, that brings us to the end of this Blue Christmas service. If you have time, I invite you to take a walk, if not outside, then at least around the inside of your home. And just linger with God a little bit longer and transition slowly back into daily life. Know that God is with you in both your grief and your hope. He is with you, my friend. You are not alone.
If this episode was meaningful to you, I would really encourage you to share it with a friend who might also be grieving or hurting this year. Let’s come alongside one another and remind one another that there is hope we can hold onto, even when life is hard.
Until next time… let’s encourage one another.
- Episode 42: Offering a Blue Christmas Service to Honor the Loss and Cling to the Hope
- Free Resource: Blue Christmas Planning Guide
- Advent Resource: When Your Silent Night Feels Empty
- The Care Ministry Podcast episode 11: The Power of Standing with People Who Are Struggling
- Background music by Dappy T Keys (YouTube Channel)
Learn more and register for Journal Gently, an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God.