Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blue Christmas

December 21st is the longest night of the year. Each year on this evening, my church has a service called the Blue Christmas service. The Blue Christmas service was started because so many people find that the holidays are not all “happy-go-lucky.” It’s a service to let those people know that it is okay to feel that way and that God is there for them. Even in their Valleys. He will see you through until you reach the mountaintops again.

Last year my little sister and I led the music for the service and we are doing the same this year. It was a very peaceful and comfortable place for those that needed it. I am so thankful that I belong to a church that recognizes that life is not all hunky dory and that even church goes lose hope and stumble in their faith.

One song that we will sing tonight is called “All that I can say” by David Crowder. I love the message in this song about how we try to do our best but sometimes we are just spent and empty. We all get there. Please read the words below and let them seek in.

Lord I'm tired, so tired from walking
And Lord I'm so alone

And Lord the dark is creeping in
It’s creeping up to swallow me
I think I'll stop & rest here a while

Chorus:
And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give

And didn't You see me cry'n?
And didn't You hear me call Your name?
Wasn't it You I gave my heart to?
I wish You'd remember where you sat it down

Chorus:
And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give

I didn't notice You were
standing here
I didn't know that that was You holding me
I didn't notice You were cry'n too
I didn't know that
that was You washing my feet

Chorus:
And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give

At the end of the service there are several stations that the congregation can visit to enhance their worship time. One is a candle lighting area where you can light a candle for a loved one or yourself. Almost like a mini memorial for someone who is hurting or someone who is no longer here.

A “burden rock” station where you can take a rock and squeeze it while you let go of all of your burdens and worries and then drop the rock into a basin of water. Sort of a symbolic “letting go” of your troubles. We have a small fountain running close to this station and the sound is very serene.

There is also a station where you can pray with a pastor one on one in a private room so it is totally confidential. I found this to be the most moving for me. I really just let go last year and felt a lot better afterward

The “manger station” has a wooden manger filled with strips of cloth. People are encouraged to take a strip of cloth with them and tie to the gear shift in their car or somewhere visible as a reminder that when God came to earth He was just a little baby swaddled in cloth. And that He is here for you always.

A communion station where you can receive communion which is very symbolic for most believers.

The Labyrinth Station is one that I try to visit often throughout the year. One of the teenaged members of our church built this Labyrinth as his Eagle Scout project. He of course had many members of his Troop help but it has turned into a very important part of our church. When you walk its path, you are encouraged to just empty your mind and allow your thoughts to trail off. I have experienced sorrow, clarity, laughter, hope, and peace during a walk on a Labyrinth.

The path is not a maze. It is a single path that has many twists and turns but always leads to the center and the path out is the same. It is very symbolic of life, “The path of life.” When there are others walking the Labyrinth with you, you are sometimes directly next to someone and then a quick turn can come and you will not see them for the rest of your walk. Also, you can be passed up or pass people on your path. All of these ideas came to me as I walked my first Labyrinth. If there is one near by you I would highly recommend it. Not only is it a great way to meditate but it is a nice walk. I should also mention that when you stand outside of the Labyrinth and watch people walk it, it looks almost like a dance. A very beautiful and graceful dance.

My church tries to create an environment where we can worship with our complete bodies. When you can not only worship with your heart but also your entire being, you tend to experience it more often throughout the day. At least for me it helps.

I am going to think about the OC a lot tonight and about all of the struggles and trials we all face. Regardless of your beliefs, please know that tonight I will be praying that each of you has a night filled with peace.

Sincerely,

George

9 comments:

Megan said...

Your church sounds awesome. I wish I could come!

Penny said...

Thank you George.

Scott said...

George,

Great post. So many things hit home for me.

The song is powerful, and hits hard.

I think it is a very powerful statement in itself. The fact that people are encouraged to do whatever fits their needs is super.

We've already talked about the path of life. One day, I would like to come and walk yours. It looks magnificent.

Have a great night, and thank you for all that you do for all of us.

Annie said...

George - thank you for this post. It is lovely and brought tears to my eyes. Also, many thanks for thinking of us OC'ers and praying for us. I will do the same for this group as I worship on Christmas Day.

I can only wish you and your family the best during this time of the year. Happy new year!

Erica said...

That service (and your church)sounds beautiful. Thank you so much for keeping all of us in your prayers.

Flmgodog said...

George-
That was such a nice post. You are always so introspective. Thanks for thinking of all of us as well!!!
Have a great holiday with your family!!

Minnesota Nice said...

SG - That was very nice. There is a college over in St Paul that had a summer outdoor labyrinth mowed in the grass - it is a very powerful tool - just let the path lead you. There is also a Unitarian church by me that has a canvas one on their basement floor - not quite as powerful, but it too does the job.
Merry Christmas to yo and your family.
Kathy

Jamie said...

Thank you George. That was a beautiful post. Thank you for thinking of all of us at this time. Your church sounds beautiful.

Carol said...

What a wonderful thing to have a service like that. Something that is missing from so many churches today is the recognition that, while accepting the gift that Christ offers provides such incredible hope, it does not keep us from having times of despair and struggle. Thank you for praying for all of us.