Blue Christmas Liturgy

Blue Christmas Liturgy

Blue Christmas Liturgy

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 grief in the course of the year, or who may be affected by or working to address political and social unrest in the community.

This service is framed by Lamentations Chapter 3, which gives voice to pain and hope. It has been adapted for virtual use in 2020. Take and adapt for your community!

Gathering Music Tom Scott

Words of Welcome Pastor

Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emanuel NCH 116 two verses

Invocation

Collective Lament:
Lamentations 3: 1-12
I am one who has known grief
under the rod of the Most High’s anger.
I am 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.

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.

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.

God lies in wait for me like a bear
Or like a lion prowling its prey,
Forcing me into the briars—
The Most High has bent the bow;
I am the target for God’s arrows.

Collective Reflection :
Invite the congregation to take this moment to witness to the pain and stress of 2020: Covid-19, Racial Violence, political stress—do the strong images of the fierce God of Lamentations 3 speak to the community gathered? How has the community experienced God at this time?

Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emanuel NCH 116 two verses

Collective Witness to Hope:

Lamentations 3: 19-33
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, other memories give me hope.
The Most High’s favor is not exhausted,
nor has God’s compassion failed.
Mercy rises up new each morning,
so great is God’s faithfulness.
“God is all I have,” I cry.
“So, I will wait in patience.”

The Most High is good to those who hope in God,
to all who seek God’s presence.
It is good to wait patiently
for God to set us free.
For the Most High will not reject us forever
but will show compassion and the fullness of love.
God does not willingly torment
or punish any human being.

Collective Reflection :
Invite the congregation to take this moment to remember the mercy of God, and to give witness to hope. How has the community experienced God at this time?

Brief Reflection Pastor

Prayers of the People

Song: Night of Silence/Silent Night Duet
Daniel Kantor/Franz Gruber
If your congregation is able to produce a music video of this piece (with appropriate OneLicense.net streaming license), it is a beautiful culmination to such a service. If not, choose a Christmas song like Silent Night, which contains elements of longing and hope. Or, perhaps, Great is Your Faithfulness, which is based on Lamentations 3.

https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/night-of-silence-silent-night-print-g5213

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.

Benediction
Scripture verses are adapted from The Inclusive Bible © 1995 Priests for Equality
Lyrics to Night of Silence reproduced under OneLicense #A-719582

Service written by the Rev. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. Adapted for 2020 by Susan Blain.

Copyright 2020 Local Church Ministries, Faith INFO Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.

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