What follows is a collection of ideas and stations that can be molded into a blue Christmas service.
This service is intended for those for whom Christmas is a difficult time, which can happen for many reasons, including a recent personal loss; depression; an association with painful Christmases past; separation from loved ones; or a feeling of intense disconnection from the prevailing secularism of Christmas. Providing a Blue Christmas service gives space and time away from the hype of Christmas and an opportunity to experience a sacred presence amidst our lives, which are sometimes awkward, uncomfortable, and messy.
Make Me A Channel of Your Peace
Be still and know that I am God
Be still for the presence of the Lord is here
He is Lord
Jesus remember me
This is an opportunity to light a candle as an act of remembrance, or prayer. Think about what it is you would like to pray, and as you say that prayer silently in your head, light the candle to symbolise your prayer going to God. You may wish to leave and move on to the next station, or to stay and watch your candle for a while.
You may light as many candles as you wish.
You may wish to come back and light another candle later after going to another prayer station.
You will need: Sand tray, votive candles, something to hold the new candles, a lit candle to go in the middle of the sand tray, matches to light the middle candle
You will need: “Starry Night over the Rhone.” And put it on display, a large printout, or a projected image both work well.
This art piece is called “Starry Night over the Rhone.”
How do you understand the different quality of light in the stars compared with the house lights?
How do you experience, or what do you feel about, each kind of light?
We don’t know who the two figures are, but we can imagine what it might be like to be them, out in the night when everyone else is home inside.
Can you identify with the figures, and know their feelings, their aches and pains, their worries and fears? Where might they have come from and where might they be going?
Is there a particular part of the painting that reveals or reflects the Divine? Stay with it for a while.
Note: If you have used “Starry Night over the Rhone” above and the reflection art, you can also use this. You will need lots of the glow-in-the-dark stars for people to take home (you get from the value shops), lots of stars cut out of yellow paper and a big piece of dark-blue/navy fabric to hang up for people to place their stars on. Give people pins to pin their paper star to the fabric, the type with the colour bobble on the end in the round disk are easy to manage.
The symbolic action of placing stars on the deep blue fabric reminds us that we are not alone, we see the prayers of others beside us and know that even though we might not always be able to see Jesus, we see the body of Christ, those who are around us and journey with us.
You may wish to write, or draw on one of the paper stars (or to put it up with nothing on it). As you place it on the fabric, say a prayer for someone or a situation that you are concerned about. You may wish to say something as you pin it, like the person’s name, or you may wish to place it in silence.
You may place more than one star
Our tears are salty. This low table is covered in salt. Draw or write something in the salt. When you have finished, taste the salt left on your finger, and make your prayer to God.
You will need: Big trestle table, 6kg of salt, black polythene, a wood surround, scissors to cut the plastic. We used a trestle table. We brought a 5.4m length of 100x50mm wood and cut that into a rectangle. With two nails at each corner you have a nice rectangle. Fold (neatly) some black polythene over the frame. You can then sprinkle about 6k of salt in the polythene tub. People can then write in it. You can’t use the salt later, as people have put their fingers in it. 6Kg of salt is about right, 8kg made the salt too deep for people to see the black words come through the salt as they wrote in it.
Sometimes life is not clean, and doing new things hurts. Make something, an object, or a word out of this sandpaper. Let the working of the sand paper be your prayer to God.
You will need: some cheap junky sandpaper from a value type shop (The Warehouse in NZ has a pack of 24 pieces for about $7), a table for people to stand at and work from.
You will need: to print out Isaiah 35 on large pieces of paper and bluetak/pin it up, or use a projector. I found it easiest to print Isaiah 35 onto 2 sheets of A4, then “blow-up” manually on the copier to A3. I then used a large notice board to pin it to it. I have also effectively “blue-tacked” it to a wall. You probably need to put a little explanation below the scripture? Something like below will work.
Isaiah 35 refers to a group of people seeking wholeness and a way home to the centre of their faith.
We used this scripture within a service booklet for reflection. We simply put it in, and gave people space/time to reflect on it.
For the next five minutes or so we are going to keep silence together. You may use the silence as you wish, but one way is to meditate by focusing on your breathing.
Take a deep breath in, followed by a long breath out. Do this 3 or 4 times, then relax to normal breathing.
As you continue to breathe, bring to mind someone you know who is hurting. Maybe it’s yourself or a friend or family member. As you breathe in focus on the pain, as you breathe out let compassion come.. Breathing in the hurt and out your desire for compassion. You might think about one person for a while, then think of someone else. Keep breathing in this way, for as long as it feels right.
This time will close with the song… Be still and know that I am God.
You will need: a singing bowl or bell. Alternately an iPod with 5 minutes of silence, then a ding at the end of 5 minutes (to end the silence)
We would often have communion at our Blue Christmas service. We created an intimate space, where in an informal way we would retell the Last Supper story and then pass communion around the circle. The service normally used was the CEV communion service in this book.
Before the service you could have some quiet contemplative music playing?
Maybe have something “airy” playing during the stations? “Vespers” by Parachute Band works well.
Meditation, 5 minutes of silence, then singing bowl, after the contemplative time. There is an app called: “Centering Prayer” by Contemplative Outreach that will do this on your Android phone.
It’s nice to offer refreshments. We offer it in a different venue to the service. Some people will wish to depart straight away, some will want to stay and chat about the service or what is happening for them.
You may wish to join us for a tea or coffee now in the Welcome Centre, or you may choose to depart. There is no rush to leave, stay as long as you wish. Please leave in silence for the sake of those who wish to remain in silence, at the end of the last song, we leave in silence, in our own time.
It’s nice to offer something to “take home” as a reminder/marker of the service and this moment in peoples’ lives..
We have had an “un-decorated” Christmas tree that people tied blue ribbon to. Some white or blue lights around it look effective.
As you leave, take an opportunity to tie on a blue ribbon to the tree, and please take a ribbon home with you, to use on your tree or in another way to remember this moment.
If you have used “Starry Night over the Rhone” above and the reflection art, you can also use this. Have a little basket of the glo-in-the-dark stars for people to take home.
As you leave, you may wish to take a star as a reminder of this day, on your journey to Christmas this year.
You will need to buy some things, create a list:
Blue ribbon, bluetak, salt, tissues, sand paper, glo-in-the-dark-stars…