Blue Christmas Liturgy
From Amistad Chapel
During Advent, 2018, members of the National Setting of the UCC gathered for this Blue Christmas service in Amistad Chapel. Blue Christmas services have become customary in many congregations, as pastors recognize that the holiday season may be difficult for those members who have observed personal losses or griefs in the course of the year, or who may be affected by or concerned about political and social unrest in the community.
This service is framed by Lamentations Chapter 3, which gives voice to pain and hope. Take and adapt for your community!
Words of Welcome
Hymn: Of the Parent’s Love Begotten
Collective Lament: Lamentations 3: 1-3
I am one who has known grief
under the rod of the Most High’s anger. *
I am the one who was led away—
Left to walk in the night, far away from the light.
The hand of God has been turned against me,
again and again, both day and night.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel v. 1
Lamentations 3: 4-6
God has torn away my skin and muscle
and broken my bones.
God has surrounded me and besieged me
with bitterness and calamity
God has cast me out into the darkness
like those long dead.
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” v. 2
Lamentations 3: 7-9
God has walled me in—there is no escape—
And weighed me down with shackles.
Even when I call out for help, God ignores my plea.
God has obstructed my path with huge boulders
And blocked my every step.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel v. 3
Lamentations 3: 10-12
God lies in wait for me like a bear
Or like a lion prowling its prey,
Forcing me into the briars—
Throwing me to the ground and leaving me in anguish.
The Most High has bent the bow;
I am the target for God’s arrows.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel v. 4
Lamentations 3: 13-15
God has pierced my heart with shafts from the quiver.
Everybody laughs at me;
I am the butt of their songs all day.
God has filled me with bitter herbs,
and sated me with gall.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel v. 5
Lamentations 3: 19-21 (unison)
I remember my woes and wanderings—
The wormwood and the gall.
Those memories are so clear to me,
And they fill me with despair.
Yet, it is because I remember all this
That I have hope.
Lamentations 3: 22-24
The Most High’s favor is not exhausted,
nor has God’s compassion failed.
They rise up new each morning,
so great is God’s faithfulness.
“God is all I have,” I cry.
“So, I will wait in patience.”
Let All Mortal Flesh: v. 1
The Most High is good to those who hope in God,
to all who see God’s presence.
It is good to wait patiently
for God to set us free.
It is good for anyone
to bear a burden from youth.
Let All Mortal Flesh: v. 2
Lamentations 3: 28-30
Let those who bear such a burden, sit in silence—
for GOD has laid it on them;
or lie prostrate on the ground—for there may yet be hope.
Let them offer their cheek to those who would strike them; let them submit themselves to grave insult.
Let All Mortal Flesh: v. 3
For the Most High will not reject them forever.
God may punish now,
but will show compassion and the fullness of love.
God does not willingly torment
or punish any human being.
Let All Mortal Flesh: v. 4
Song: Night of Silence/Silent Night
Daniel Kantor/Franz Gruber
Cold are the people, winter of life,
We tremble in shadows this cold endless night,
Frozen in the snow lie roses sleeping,
Flowers that will echo the sunrise,
Fire of hope is our only warmth,
Weary, its flame will be dying soon….
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright,
Round yon Virgin Mother and child,
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.
Closing Hymn: Come, O Long Expected Jesus
Service written by the Rev. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ.
Scripture verses are taken from The Inclusive Bible © 1995 Priests for Equality