JOHN SCOTT: A blue Christmas

By PASTOR JOHN SCOTT

Guest Columnist

The words of the song say, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know…may your days be merry and bright…” It stirs happy memories of Christmas’ passed and expresses desire for present and future Christmas’ to be the same.

Another familiar song that everyone has likely heard says, “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you…” expresses the honest feelings of a broken heart in the midst of a season that is meant to be one of joy and celebration.

For many people, the joys and happiness that are meant for this time of year are simply dull beams of light pressing through the clouds of darkness and resignation. Celebration is difficult at best. Sights, sounds, and scents of the season stir memories and amplify grief. Some may be facing the holidays while bearing the loss of a loved one. Some are doing all they can to deal with the emotional fallout of a divorce, loss of a job, or emotional trauma. For some, the emotional pressure of the season, or the short days filled with grey skies and a lack of sunshine are simply overwhelming.

Grief is a strange, aggressive animal that attacks all of us throughout life. It can pin us down and back us into dark, lonely places that rob us of who we would otherwise be if grief had not attacked. The attacks come in waves and as time goes by they continue in more subtle ways slowly eating away at hope, joy, love and even life. Loss of any kind always leaves us dealing with a new normal whether we welcome it or not.

The way we celebrate Christmas typically is about children and a festival of light. We have pageants and parades. Santa Claus comes to town. Cookies are baked. Presents wrapped. There are parties and gatherings. Anticipation and expectations are heightened. It’s as though the whole thing happens and there is no room for us to express our sense of loss. There are lights everywhere yet internally we feel swallowed by the darkness of grief that has invaded our life. No time to be still and acknowledge our pain. We can feel misunderstood and lonely. As we grieve we feel a deeper sense of loss while others celebrate.

The date set for us to celebrate Christmas purposefully was set during the darkest and longest nights of the winter to help remind us that no matter how dark our days, no matter how long the night we endure, there is always hope, there is always light, there is always love, and there is joy and peace. God understands our pain and is with us as we grieve. Herein lies the true meaning of Christmas…a light has shined in the darkness and the darkness cannot extinguish it.”

Blue Christmas is a worship service that offers time of quiet, reflective worship that incorporates Scripture, music, prayer, and meditations focused on the comfort God offers during dark times. It is a time to acknowledge our losses and give sacred space to our grieving as we light candles and remember. It is a somber service designed to help people overcome darkness and take back Advent (the season of preparation before Christmas).

Everyone in the community is welcome to attend. This service (as well has any other) is not limited to church members. It’s a wonderful way to have a quiet, reflective, spiritual time in the midst of a very busy season. It’s an opportunity to respond to what you are going through during this season. It’s an opportunity to open your self up to what God can do through the gift of Jesus Christ.

The service takes place at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Manistee United Methodist Church, 387 First Street in Manistee.

The church website is www.manisteeumc.org.

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