A Blue Christmas: Christmas Gathering for the Grieving
This morning we are offering a Blue Christmas Gathering at our church. I had heard about such gatherings and even read about them, but have never sponsored such an event myself. This year though is my first Christmas as a pastor, and I would say over 30% of the families in our congregation our grieving the loss of a loved one. I thought that we should offer a Blue Christmas (a.k.a. "The Longest Night.") I was quite surprised though how difficult it was to find a service flow to follow for such an event. So looking at what I've heard people say about such a gathering and piecing together little tidbits I found across the Internet, I put together the following service. Please feel free to use and edit as you have need.
Blue Christmas Gathering
We come together today because we are people who share something in common, the loss of a loved one. Not everyone around you gets what it is like for you to celebrate Christmas and at the same time mourn. Not everyone wants to hear your stories or listen to you share how Christmas use to be. But we come today to a place where it is safe to say, this Christmas is different, and even to say that it is hard. But nonetheless there is still a place where we can find reason to celebrate, and that is here in the church. A place where we look at the manger and we see a cross. We look at an infant and see a Savior. We look at birth, life, and death, and see resurrection.
At Christmas we often miss the suffering in the story. The suffering of Mary in giving birth. The suffering of she and Joseph’s pride in having a child out of wedlock. And the suffering of all the families whose children were put to death.
Read: Matthew 2:16-18
The first Christmas did not come without grief.
Song: “Yahweh” by U2
Read “A Mustard Seed Christmas”
Time of Sharing: Note cards
The note cards that are being passed around now are for writing the words that you want people to hear. Words that honor your loved one. Words that recognize how this Christmas will be different. Words that express your feelings, ask a question, or even say a prayer. Perhaps these are even words that are written that may be hard to say at Christmas time and even harder for other people to hear. Perhaps these are words that there just doesn’t seem an appropriate place to say, but you need to say.
I will give you a few minutes to write.
Time of Sharing: With Each Other
Let’s take a few minutes to share with those around us why we are here. Who do you remember today? What are you going to miss about them this Christmas? How are you celebrating Christmas differently this year?
While you are doing this, I will be walking around and collecting any cards that you would like for me to read out loud to the group.
Time of Sharing: Unheard Words (written on cards)
Read the cards out loud to the group.
Just two chapters after the story of the deaths of the innocent infants, we read of the beginning of Jesus ministry.
Read: Matthew 4:12-17
Jesus came to bring us light and to bring us life. Jesus is our hope. “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
Watch video: Mary’s Boy Child” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkq4AlQyIkA
Point out lyrics: “Man will love for evermore because of Christmas day.
Pass out Mustard Seeds.
Our mustard seed is our faith and hope of one day being reunited with our loved ones in heaven.
Read: 1 Corinthians 13
Light the candles.
In the Christ child, we see the future death of a son. God knew by sending his son to us he was also temporarily giving up his son to the world and to death. But, he also knew that was not the end, for through His son, all people would be given eternal life!
Prayer, Silence, & Dismissal
Listen to Christmas music