Monday, December 9, 2013

Reflections for Blue Christmas Service:

To go with this service
#1
We gather here today as another round of the calendar draws to a close. The circle has gone around again, bringing with it times of sorrow and times of joy; times of despair and times of hope; times of longing for what was and times of wondering what will be. And for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.

The circle of the seasons, the circle of the week, the circle of the day. Life is full of cycles, repetition, patterns. Sometimes these patterns bring us comfort, or at least keep us going when the world falls apart. And sometimes the patterns and cycles remind us of how this go round will not be the same , how something is missing, and so bring us a feeling of loss, of sorrow, of longing for things to be “the way they were”.

But still the circles turn. Unendingly they turn, pulling us around with them, bringing us up and down. And so we light this candle to remind us of the circles, to remind us that there is a time to weep and mourn but also a time to laugh and dance. May its light and warmth sustain us as the circles carry us through the years....

#2
The snow drifts pile up. The cold wind blows. The ground is hard and frozen.
Or.
The sand dunes stretch for miles. The sun blazes down. All is hot and dry and barren.
Neither is an image that suggests comfort and life.

But wait. Look again at the winter scene. As the wind gusts it shakes the trees, sending lumps of snow to the ground and revealing the trees. Sometimes the branches revealed are bare and dry, mere sticks in the winter landscape, bereft of any sign that they once bore bright green leaves. But then there are the other trees. Dark green against the white snow. Defying the cold and lifelessness of winter. Reminding us of the life that continues.

Or shall we join Isaiah in the desert, watching it burst into bloom? A place where the barrenness is replaced with life through the power of God.

We light this candle to remind us of the possibility of life. We light it to remind us that there is life, even when we may not expect it, there is life. May the light of this candle give us hope when we have lost it....

#3
Such a pretty plant. But pick it up and you feel its sharp thorns, poking holes in the skin so that drops of bright red blood join the bright red berries. Such is the Holly.

Such a pretty season, coloured lights everywhere, songs ringing through the air. But look closer. There amidst the joy and excitement are people whose hearts have been pierced, people for whom the joy is hard to find, people who need a place where they are allowed to feel the pain that breaks their heart. Such is Christmas.

As the circle of the year turns, it brings Christmas. And so Christmas comes to us all in our sorrow and our pain as well as our joy and excitement. But hidden amongst the coloured lights and the joyous carols is comfort. Hidden amongst all the fuss and bother is hope, the promise that a road is being built through the rough places, the proclamation of comfort to those who struggle. The Holly of the season reminds us that not all is well. But the promise is there – we are comforted in our pain, we are given a path to follow that leads us through the rough places. For God gathers us as a shepherd gathers the lambs, holding us close, holding us safe.

We light this candle to remind us that we carry our own wounds, but also to remind us of the One who brings comfort, who binds our wounds and shares their pain. May the light of this candle remind us that we are not alone...

#4
In the beginning, all was darkness and chaos. In the beginning, God's Spirit was there. In the beginning, God spoke “Let there be Light”. And everything changed. There was light, there was order (or at least some order).

When Blue Christmas services first started to gain traction they were often held on the night of the solstice, the longest night of the year (and many were in fact given names like “Longest Night Service of Into the December Darkness). It was a way to honour not only the reality of our days in this latitude but also the darkness of grief.

Isaiah wrote “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who walked in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.” There are times when we are the people who walk in darkness. And so we come searching for the light.

There are days when life thrusts us into darkness and chaos. And God's Spirit is there. And God speaks, saying “Let there be Light”. And things change. Maybe not all at once but they change. Even if shadows remain, the light drives away the darkness. And order starts to take shape within the chaos, even if only to the point where it can now be called “ordered disorder”.

We light this candle to remind us of the light that was and is and yet will be. We light this candle to remind ourselves that we need not walk in darkness. May the light of this candle shine in our hearts whenever the shadows grow stronger and deeper...

#5

The center of our circle, the center of the season, the center of our hope. Christ the Lord is Born! The Light of the World is come!

We have come to our last candle. We have come to the point when we are reminded of where the hope, the comfort, of the season. The angel speaks across the centuries of faith and tradition to reach into our own hearts, quelling the fear, touching the despair with words of hope. “Do not be afraid..for to you is born a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord”

John reminds us that the God who comes as a child is the God who has been from the beginning, the Word that brings hope, light and life to a world. Today we remember the promise of the Light that can never be overcome, no matter how dark the world may get. Can we join with the angels, even if only with part of our being, and sing Glory to God for the Christmas gift?

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