Regular readers, both of them, know that several times a month I serve a very small rural congregation, and love it. So on December 22 we are teaming up with the UCC church across the street to host a Blue Christmas service. It’s one they’ve done before, but it’s a first for us. You probably know that it’s a simple service of readings, prayer and music designed especially for those who find the holiday season emotionally hard to bear.
I was trying to explain it to my wife, who wondered whether a Blue Christmas service was something of a liturgical pity party making an already difficult holiday season even worse. A very good question, because advertising it to the broader community has to overcome that hurdle and a few others.
For one thing, the larger community is made up of two fairly large groups. First, those who attend conservative churches that emphasize the dark days in which we live, the importance of fighting the devil, the slim and slippery grasp we have on salvation, and a dose of right wing politics whenever it can be worked in. The other, and larger group, are those who attend no church at all, are turned off by what they think they know about Christianity as expressed by the churches in the first group, and know for certain that their lives bear zero similarity to those depicted on the Hallmark Channel’s nonstop parade of saccharine Christmas shows. So whatever Christianity and Christmas are about, it has nothing to do with them.
We shall see what happens. We are going to advertise it as well as we can in the local papers and social media. It will be held at our church, but the Congregational pastor will lead it. I will be the celebrant for Holy Communion offered at the end, with some inviting explanation about what Holy Communion means as a sacrament of healing within the context of Anglican tradition. It will be gentle and filled with hope and blessing for those who need it most. I may have more to say about it after the 22nd. In the meantime, on to other things.