I've been preparing for Sunday night's Blue Christmas service, a time meant simply to gather and remember the losses we sometimes incur. It could be the loss of a spouse or relative, loss of a friendship, loss of a job - anything that causes us to believe that we've lost something in life. As I've been preparing for this service and lifting it up to the congregation, I've received some mixed reviews on the merits of hosting such a service. There is some uncertainty about attending - not sure exactly why. Others look forward to it.
My best guess would be that a Blue Christmas is a relatively unknown experience. I'd echo that - I've never led such a service, so I have no idea what to expect. Some have mentioned that they are in the same category - not sure of what to expect or what might happen. One article in our Methodist Interpreter's magazine speaks of the power of the service, even if the name of it may not be the most appealing of titles. You can read that by clicking on this link.
What I can say is based on my years of experience in walking with people who have experiences of grief and loss is that Christmas can be a tough time for them. These experiences come in many forms, shapes and sizes. There is no one set timetable for persons to work through their grief for losing a loved one, missing their relative who is serving in the military, despondent over the loss of a job, loss of community due to retirement or moving, or just wondering about growing older and the loss of being younger.
It isn't just about death and dying. There are many kinds of losses that every single person experiences in their lifetime - young or old. How we maneuver through them is also varied - depending upon our foundation of faith, our support systems, or our perspectives on life - even our emotional and physical condition feeds into it.
It's about life and healing. Sometimes those two things are so intertwined. What I mean is that we will spend an entire lifetime searching for healing. Looking for ways to be made whole. Yearning for peace of mind and comfort of a broken heart. For some of these losses we may never find complete comfort. What we may discover, however, is how we can walk in the midst of the grief and loss, knowing it is there, recognizing its hold over us, and coming to grips with the understanding that it may always be present. The loss is now part of our experience and we learn how to walk in life differently.
I believe it's okay for people to approach a service like this with a wary eye. We are dealing with some strong emotions after all. I pray that we will be able to walk with them together.