I began to wonder how many shades of blue exist. The best explanation I discovered is that there are an infinite number of possible shades. Each can be modified slightly by adding a new color.
Recently, I heard the question asked “what was your favorite Christmas.” It’s an interesting question. I know from experience how easy it is for many of us to remember our worst Christmas. For some among us, pain is the only gift under the tree.
Last evening, I attended a service titled: “Blue Christmas: A Service of Comfort & Light.” As the church pews slowly filled, I wondered what shade of blue each participant was carrying like the father and his very young son sitting across from me? Where was Mom? Or the man his head in his hands crying softly. What color blue is morning? I recognized a transgendered woman in her holiday best… looking sad and lonely. The gentleman in the pew in front of me clutched a photo of him and his partner. A few rows back, two beautiful women exchanging tissues, holding hands just wanting to live their lives out loud. So many shades of blue.
As candles were light we prayed –
We light the first to remember those persons who have been loved and lost. We pause to remember their names, their faces, their voices. We give thanks for the memory that binds them to us this season.
We light the second to redeem the pain of loss: the loss of relationship, the loss of jobs, the loss of health, the loss of dreams. As we gather up the pain of the past, we offer it to You, O God, asking that into our open hands You will place the gift of peace.
We light the third to remember ourselves this Christmas time. We pause and remember the past weeks, months and, for some of us years of difficult times. We remember the poignancy of memories, the grief, the sadness, the hurt, the pain of reflecting on our own mortality.
We light the fourth to remember our faith and the gift of hope which God offers to us in the Christmas story. We remember that God, who shares our life and promises us a time and place of no more pain and suffering. The time is now and the place is now.
So many shades… so many shades of hope.
Come , let us join hands and carry the light of the fourth candle into our hearts, lives, and the world. One is brighter than two and so forth. Let’s exchange our tears for smiles wrapped in light and radiant with hope. The gift of love is freely given and waiting under the tree.
This was a deeply moving service. At the end, I felt the best Christmas was only days away because we can bring our pain and loss to the manger and exchange them for joy, light, and the knowledge that we are God’s beloveds. And here’s the thing… God’s love is anything but blue!
A personal note of thanks to::
The Revs. Carri Patterson Grindon and Betsy Hooper-Rosebrook friends and colleagues for offering Blue Christmas: A Service of Comfort & Light at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Altadena. CA.
Louise Brooks, always friend and sometimes editor.