This was our third year hosting a Blue Christmas service - a worship where we provide space for the difficult emotions of the holiday seasons. Because I think we could all use the opportunity to name the places where we are struggling, this week I'm going to post the reflections and prayers I wrote for the service we had on Sunday December 20th.
We start with
Making Space for Grief and Lament
Psalm 6:2-9 (NRSV)
2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
3 My soul also is struck with terror,
while you, O Lord—how long?
4 Turn, O Lord, save my life;
deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who can give you praise?
6 I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eyes waste away because of grief;
they grow weak because of all my foes.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my supplication;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
I must confess that finding words for tonight's service has been difficult. How do you encompass the pain, the grief, the sorrow, all of the emotions that this past year has stirred within us? How do we begin to pray?
One of the unique struggles of this year is the shared sorrow and trauma we have all faced. We are used to taking turns, to offering support for one another as each has need.
When we are all weighed down by the heavy load of pandemic, racism, violence, division, isolation, economic stress, lost opportunity, the list could go on,
our capacity to support one another is diminished just when we need it more than ever.
When words failed me, I found these words from Loren Richmond:
God is with us in our suffering,
loving us, walking with us, comforting us.
I do not believe God is the cause or author of such suffering,
I do not believe God “allows” bad things to happen.
I can’t imagine why God would “allow” us to suffer.
I believe in a God who is always working for good,
a God who is somehow able
to take horrible, rotten things
and create something out of the rubble.
God came into the world
amidst violence, oppression, and despair
and was able to bring life
and I believe that God is with each one of us
in our challenges and suffering,
comforting us and consoling us
and trying to bring good
out of that which was so bad.
And that is what I think makes God, God.
We are weary, we have shed too many tears. We are weak with grief.
And in our pain, in our sorrow, in our laments,
God hears us. God hears us.
Let us pray.
In this holy season of Advent
we remember that you chose to become like us.
To become incarnate flesh.
We remember that you too know sorrow and grief.
More than that, you sit with us,
heart breaking over and over again
at the grief we carry
the losses we mourn,
the loneliness we feel.
Tonight we grieve loved ones we have lost this year,
feeling their absence especially during this holiday season.
We remember those we have lost in years past,
and continue to feel the sting of loss.
We grieve with over 300,000 families mourning loved ones lost to COVID
just in the United States.
Tonight we grieve with
all who have lost jobs,
who have had to choose between income and health,
who are struggling to support their families
Tonight we give to you
all who are bearing the weight of decision making
in this complicated time.
Health officials, administrators, school districts, church leaders
elected officials, business owners and more.
Tonight we witness the heavy burden
of our health care workers and
all who stand witness to illness and pain,
providing comfort in the face of death,
serving in the place of loved ones
and running on fumes.
Tonight we pray for the sorrow in our homes.
Solitude in homes too empty, too quiet.
Or chaos that reigns and robs us of restorative peace
Distance from loved ones and arms that long to hug.
And for those whose home is a place of violence and abuse.
Tonight we pray for the unique grief and pain
this year has brought each of us.
Unknowns and misunderstandings
Hear now the cries of our hearts, our prayers spoken and unspoken.
Hear our prayers, O God. Hear our prayers
I invite you to leave the cries of your hearts in the comments so we can continue to pray for one another.