Blue Christmas/Longest Night Worship With Those Who Mourn
Blue? Yes, blue as in the blues. As in "I am feeling blue." Not everyone is up and cheery for the Christmas holidays. Dealing with the death of a loved one, facing life after divorce or separation, coping with the loss of a job, living with cancer or some other dis-ease that puts a question mark over the future, and a number of other human situations make parties and joviality painful for many people in our congregations and communities. There is a growing attentiveness to the needs of people who are blue at Christmas. Increasing numbers of churches are creating sacred space for people living through dark times. Such services are reflective, accepting where we really are, and holding out healing and hope.
Some churches hold a service of worship on the longest night of the year, which falls on or about December 21st, the Winter Solstice. There is an interesting convergence for this day as it is also the traditional feast day for Saint Thomas the Apostle. This linkage invites making some connections between Thomas's struggle to believe the tale of Jesus' resurrection, the long nights just before Christmas, and the struggle with darkness and grief faced by those living with loss.
If you are looking for resources and ideas about how to plan such a service for your setting, or if you just want to know what a "Blue Christmas Service" is, the following links should be helpful to you.
Articles that further explore the concept of "Blue Christmas" and Longest Night services:
"Blue Christmas services a comfort for many" by Tiffany Vail
Hymns and songs in The United Methodist Hymnal (UMH) and The Faith We Sing (TFWS)
- 205 Canticle of Light and Darkness (UMH)
- 211 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (UMH)
- 221 In the Bleak Midwinter (UMH)
- 223 Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light (UMH)
- 230 O Little Town of Bethlehem (UMH)
- 452 My Faith Looks Up to Thee (UMH)
- 461 For Those Who Grieve (prayer) (UMH)
- 505 When Our Confidence Is Shaken (St. Thomas connection especially) (UMH)
- 516 Canticle of Redemption (Psalm 130) (UMH)
- 525 Well Understand It By and By (UMH)
- 854 Psalm 139 (UMH)
- 2199 Stay With Us (a wonderful simple healing song) (TFWS)
- 2204 Light of the World (especially if Holy Communion is celebrated) (TFWS)
Resources for weaving in St. Thomas the Apostle, whose feast day is on December 21st
Collect for Saint Thomas, December 21
Everliving God, who didst strengthen thy apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in thy Son's resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
All of the texts in the Book of Common Prayer are available online. All of the texts are public domain and those used here are gratefully acknowledged.
Blue Christmas: A Service of Reflection for the Longest Night
This 'Blue Christmas' service is based on an order developed and used at The Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, Honolulu Hawaii.