Did You Know? Blue Christmas

by Stacy Smith

What is “Blue Christmas?”

Blue Christmas, or Longest Night, is a service of worship designed for people suffering with pain, loss, isolation and grief in the Advent season. As Nancy Townely says, “On this night, or anytime this service is presented, we remember those for whom the holidays are not joyful; they are lonely, in mourning, feeling alienated and cast apart from family celebrations; they are experiencing depression and sadness and yet are often compelled to ‘put on a happy face’ for others, denying their true feelings. ” The service is often held on or around December 21, the “longest night” of the year.

What happens at a “Blue Christmas” service?

A Blue Christmas or Longest Night service may include any elements that convey a sense of welcome, trust and understanding in what can be a very painful time of the year. The service is most often held in the evening as a special worship offering of the church. Candles, meditative music, psalms of lament, prayers for healing, and blessings of prayer shawls are all elements that can create a welcoming worship space. This is also a good time to remind congregation members about counseling opportunities, bereavement groups, Stephen Ministry, or of any other ministries your church offers for people in need. You may also want to provide counselors on-site during the service.

Why should my church offer a Blue Christmas worship service?

Many of us are acquainted with the paradox of the Advent and Christmas seasons—times when we feel we are supposed to celebrate hope, love, joy and peace, and yet a time that can also be full of depression, sadness and grief. Blue Christmas services offer special recognition of the struggles that many people face during this season. Its somber tone also testifies to the struggles of Mary, Joseph and Jesus that are often overlooked. By offering this service of worship to your congregation and community, you can acknowledge the struggles that we all face while providing a safe place of rest, comfort and healing.

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