Blue Christmas, a service for hope and healing
We lost the first 6 minutes of the service but you will see a transcript of what we shared below. In addition, you can download the worship guide as well.
We come together tonight to worship the God of the universe … and often, when we think about worship, we think about singing songs of praise and thanksgiving and joy … but what do you do when none of those feel like they connect with your heart? What do you do when that does not seem to be your present experience of life or of God?
“The Advent Season is one of wonder. For so many it is a time of hopeful anticipation, It is a season of promise … but for many of us, especially those of us gathered here, Christmas is a harsh reminder of life that once was. While so many are ready to sing Joy to the World, we gather as those that mourn. We gather now to carve out a time of quiet reflection and prayer. We gather to shed tears if they come, to hold hands if they are available, and to know that we are not alone. Whether this is the first Christmas without someone you love, or if you seem to be hurting from loss for as long as you remember, we gather to be reminded that is okay to mourn, even at Christmas.” (from Rev. Robb McCoy)
In our world, we are often tempted to find fast, easy answers to our grief (or perhaps others want us to heal more quickly than seems possible) … but in times of grief, there are not words to contain all that is happening but there is presence/the presence of God and the presence of others that can carry us and hold us. A time like tonight is not about being ok but about finding God in the midst of our loss. Its about being reminded that God sits with us and He weeps with us … a night like tonight is about saying “I want to trust” when we’re struggling to trust & simply saying “I want to trust” is trust … trusting that there is more to the story than we can see at the present time.
If you come tonight with grief and loss – you are seen, you are known.
“Lord, in this season of anticipation, we seek the comfort of the Holy Spirit. We ask for your blessing this night upon those who mourn, for the pain at Christmas seems sharper. We remember the word of Jesus who promised to comfort those that mourn. All around us are reminders of the joy that the world tells us we are supposed to be feeling. Thank you for simply being with us when we are not experiencing joy. Guide us now, Father in heaven, that we may move in still small steps from mourning to comfort. Help us to find healing in the midst of pain, and order in the midst of chaos. Lighten our burden. Give us rest. Amen.”
Reading Psalm 13
Psalm 13 is a psalm of lament. A lament is a prayer of crying out to God in despair or anger or grief … while this is often not a part of corporate worship in our modern world, it probably should be. 1/3 of the Psalm are lament … what that tells us is that lament is an invited form of prayer and worship … we often feel like we need to have things figured out and be in a good place to pray but the lament psalms say something different. We come as we are …
Lament can feel uncomfortable if we feel like we are supposed to feel other ways but it is only as we face our pain head on in prayer that we can move toward healing and hope. Lament is not the same complaining or just being grumpy … the difference is simple, lament is complaining and being grumpy with God in prayer.
In Psalm 13, we see a progression from Lament “How long …?” to dependence “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” to hope “I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.” We are going to walk through this progression tonight in prayer but know that rather than being a linear progression – lament and grieving is often one in which we move from despair to dependence to hope and find a mixture of all of them at the same time. Some of the lament psalms just pray a prayer of despair and complaint and there is no resolution expressed – if that is where you are … there is an invitation from God to simply be there. We are seen and known by God so if it is something we are experiencing, it something we can pray and come to God with.
Advent – traditionally celebrated is a time of waiting … of saying, I’m not ok – the world as I am an experiencing it not ok – it to saying that we are longing for something for more. Living in a place of joyful acceptance only comes as we face our griefs and fear and angers head on & we are encouraged to face them in prayer …