Blue Christmas Service on 12.21.22
At First United Methodist Church Castle Rock we are touching people and changing lives through the love of Jesus Christ.
About the Service
Blue Christmas” service. For some, memories of past experiences and the pain of present experiences and situations can become overwhelming. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve can be very difficult and a reminder of the challenges in our lives.
In this service, we invite you to listen. We invite you to pray. We invite you to sing. We invite you to meditate upon the pain and anguish you may bring—and we invite you to offer your pain to the Christ child. And we trust that you will find hope and comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
Our Stephen Ministers will be available to talk any point in the service they will be the people with the blue name tags on.
Prescription For A Blue Christmas: Hope
Written by Joe Gschwendtner
The winter solstice, or first day of winter is also the longest night of the year. Many churches recognize it in an Advent service or “Blue Christmas.”
For some, Christmastide is not for merrymaking, but rather great sadness. They have lost a loved one, a close friend, are ill, deeply in debt or beaten down by life itself. While the whole world seems to be laughing, they cry inside, estranged from joy with indescribable grief or loneliness. Recent mass shootings have only exacerbated this for all. Statistics tell us that loneliness has become an epidemic.
Hurting people need our help. They are in a silent crisis, needing to see beyond the veil of darkness that masks their sunlight. As Pastor Franks has noted, ours is a God of hope, and we are in his plan.
Let’s use December to take the time and attention to walk alongside those who we know are hurting.It is anything but easy, even painful, but God has called us to this.Jesus ministry changed many a hopeless life. We can too, just as he did. After all, this is the season….
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus UMH 196
Words of Invitation [2 Cor. 1:4b-5, NRSV]
Moment of Silence
The Lighting of the First Candle
Leader:We light this candle to remember all those we have loved and lost. We pause to remember
their names, their faces, their voices. We give thanks for the memory that binds them to us
during this season of holy waiting.
People: May God’s eternal love surround them.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel UMH 211 Vs 1-2
A Reading from the Continuing Revelation of God to People of Faith [TS Eliot, from “East Coker”]
Leader: I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you which shall be the darkness of God…. I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; there is yet faith but the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought; so the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. God, I want “green pastures” in my life, I’m always in search of something better.
People: A place to rest.
Leader: You have the perfect places in mind for me, quiet meadows beside crystal clear water to drink.
People: You know what will refresh my soul.
Leader: Show me those places, I am trying to trust in you.
People: And teach me to follow you every day as if there was no other. Amen.
The Lighting of the Second Candle
Leader: We light this second candle to redeem our wounds. We remember before us the pain and loss: the loss of relationships, the loss of jobs, and the loss of health. As we gather up the pain of the past, we offer it to you, Holy One. We pray that into our broken hearts and open hands, you place the gift of peace.
People: Refresh, restore, renew us, O God, and lead us in your future.
O Lord Hear My Prayer TFWS 2200
Prayers for Compassion
All: Holy One, you know us inside and out. In your compassion forgive what we have been, help us amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name.
Time of Silent Prayer
Assurance of Acceptance (based on Isaiah 49:14-16)
Prayer for Illumination
All: Gracious God, nourish us tonight with your Word, that we may be strengthened and encouraged through Jesus the Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen.
Reflection By Rev. Matt Franks
Musical Meditation Offering
During this time of reflection, you are encouraged to write down grief, fears, losses that are weighing on you this season. We invite you to come forward to lay down what you wrote down in the basket in front of the podium.
You are also encouraged as you feel so moved to light a candle of hope for the future.
Anyone who would like to receive the sacrament of healing by laying on of hands and anointing may proceed to the side of the stage.
A Reading from the Continuing Revelation to God’s People“Advent,” by Jessica Powers
The Lighting of the Third Candle
We light this third candle to remember ourselves in this holy time. We pause and remember the past weeks, months and for some of us, years of down times. We remember the poignancy of memories, the grief, the sadness, the hurts, and the pain of reflecting on our own mortality.
People: Let us remember that dawn defeats darkness.
A Reading from the Christian Gospel [Matthew 11:28-30]
The Lighting of the Fourth Candle
This fourth candle is lit to remember our faith and the gift of hope which God offers to us in
the Christmas story. We remember that God, who shares our life, promises us a place and
time of no more pain and suffering.
People: Let us remember the one who shows the way and goes with us into tomorrow.
A Reading from the Hebrew Tradition [“An Unending Love” by Rabbi Rami Shapiro]
Closing Song: This Little Light of Mine UMH 585
Closing Prayer from Ted Loder, Guerillas of Grace
Thank you for joining us in worship tonight.
This service was adapted from the Blue Christmas Service Held at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Tucson, Arizona