Sometimes the holidays are coloured in hues of blacks and greys. I remember the Blues Christmas remembrance that let my heart feel sadness at the loss of my siblings: Rebecca, Ruth, Joe, and my father Ernest. Those annual times of remembering around the holidays held me in times of personal grieving.
It is helpful in this starlit season to pause and look at empty stockings, feel favorite memories, and have a gentle cry as you hear a favourite rendition of: I’ll have a Blue Christmas without you. We need light and warmth penetrating our heavy and sad hearts this time of year.
Over the next two Sundays I will pause at both SouthWest and Emmanuel to add an ornament to the Christmas tree with names written on the back. There will be enough for you to use and place as well.
I need light to shine into my grief and aloneness, to acknowledge feeling vulnerable, fragile and sometimes broken. I love these words:
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. (Thanks, Leonard Cohen, for those lines.)
We each cope the best way possible. Community of faith means that we are not alone. In both congregations we experience the lighting of the Advent wreath. Some may place memorial lights on the tree in front of the church, offer a takeout turkey meal for seniors or shut-ins on December 26th at SouthWest Mission. Cards are sent to friends and those far from us, and we can invite someone alone at Christmas to our home or to Christmas Eve services. We can simply read the prayer below in a quiet time of remembering and celebrating love.
Maybe you can light a candle and say:
I remember...(loved one)
I hold you...(brother and sister in faith) and you hold me, in our hearts and prayers.
Together we are light, even when it is but a flickering candle.
God of comfort and compassion,
hear us as we pray for ourselves
and for all who live with loss and loneliness,
pain and grief, hurt and isolation.
We ask for strength for today,
courage for tomorrow,
and peace for the past.
We ask these things in the name of Christ
who shares our life in joy and sorrow,
in death and new birth,
despair and promise. Amen.
Some Bible texts:
Psalm 121, Unto the hills
Isaiah 40:1-8 Comfort, O comfort my people
Matthew 1:18-23 Angel appears to Joseph in a dream
Luke 1:8-13 Angel announces birth of John the Baptist
Luke 1:26-30 The angel Gabriel visits Mary
Luke 2:6-10 An angel announces Jesus birth
Luke 6:20-23 Blessed are you who weep
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who knows our pain and struggle,
the peace of God, which passes all understanding,
and the strength of the Holy Spirit,
be with you this day/night and always. Amen.
(Prayers from Celebrate God’s Presence, UCC)