When Christmas Hurts

“The true joy of Christmas is in the love shared with family and friends.”

“May this Christmas find you surrounded by those you love and those who love you.”

Sometimes, our lives do not spin out in tidy, Christmas-card scenes.
Sometimes, Christmas does not promise to be full of joy.
Sometimes, watching other people prepare with joy for a celebration of family, fun, and excess can highlight what our own lives might lack: the person who will be missing from the table, or the presents we can’t afford, or the conflicts we can’t fix, or the illness that steals away those we love.

A perfect Christmas dinner

Christmas slogans and wishes can highlight our yearnings – and make us more aware of what we lack.

“May the closeness of friends and the comfort of home renew your spirits this Christmas”

Advent can be a balm for the weary soul – a season in which we accept the reality of darkness, of longing, of grief, but we also remember the promise and hope that the forces which grieve and destroy the creatures of God will never triumph in the end.

In the midst of deep darkness, a light still shines.

In recent years, some churches have begun to offer a special service for those who find it hard to be joyful at Christmas: those who are grieving (death of a loved one, loss of a relationship, difficult diagnosis, mental illness, loss of a job, etc), those who hurt. These services have many names (Blue Christmas, Longest Night, Service of Solace) but one purpose: offering a place to those who need it to remember that Christmas is, at its core, about God coming to meet us in the midst of our often messy lives. Picture-perfect home-crafted displays may be nice, but they are entirely unnecessary.

A Blue Christmas service will be held in the Advent Chapel tomorrow, December 17, 2011 at 3pm. All are welcome, and no active participation will be required of those who attend.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
— Psalm 46:1-5 (NRSV)

... an ever present help in trouble
(Picture of sunrise by Mehul Antani.)


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