As I write to you today, I have just returned home from carolling with the Churches Together group at Upminster’s Christmas Kick-off event. Like similar celebrations in many of our communities, it was a festive evening marked by bright lights, cheerful music, wonderfully-smelling food, and lots of over-excited and well-sugared young people. As the costumed characters made their rounds for photos with the kids, it was hard not to smile and be in a joyful mood.
But for many in our church families and communities, the holiday season is not necessarily a time for joy and cheer. Depending on life circumstances, Christmas may not bring the joy that it once did. And the constant barrage of joyful music and well-wishes can make some people feel left out and excluded from the celebrations others seem to enjoy so much.
It’s important to remember that the very first Christmas was not all that joyful either. Mary and Joseph were miles away from their home as Mary neared the time when she was to give birth. They had no place to stay…no place to sleep…no help with the labour and delivery of the baby. They had to have been lonely, scared, frustrated and angry.
Even though we like to sing “Silent night, holy night,” the reality is that it probably didn’t feel like much of either of those to Mary and Joseph.
If you can relate to some of these feelings, I invite you to join me on Friday 22 December at 7pm at Trinity URC for our first “Blue Christmas” Service. It will be a time to meditate, to pray, to reflect, to remember, and most of all, a time to remind ourselves that it is only in times of darkness that we can most clearly see the light of the world. I hope you will join us for a time of reflective worship followed by light refreshments and camaraderie.
I have found Blue Christmas services to be among the most powerful services that I’ve led, and I look forward to sharing the evening with all of you.
Blessings on your Christmas celebrations,