Some churches call it a Blue Christmas service reflecting the sadness of the song made popular by Elvis Presley. Others call it the Longest Night service because it occurs on or near the winter solstice, with the year’s least amount of daylight.
It’s a chance for some to say their life isn’t all merry and bright. Their Christmas isn’t white. In the midst of the merriment that some experience during the season there are others who face the blues. Grief. Separation. Trauma. Stress of expectations. All can bring on darkness.
And so some churches have begun conducting Blue Christmas services. The music is more mellow. Votive candles provide softer lights. Readings help people reflect and prayers give words to petitions. It’s a way for people to acknowledge that their world is not all right. That in various ways it is dark. And yet God is still with them.
Joseph could have used a Blue Christmas service. No sooner had the wise men left than Joseph is given another dream. An angel of the Lord tells him: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Like many Syrians today, Joseph and his family became refugees. They fled to Egypt, a place known in Israelite history as the place their liberation came from. While there, Bethlehem babies are slaughtered by Herod. Scholars estimate there would have been between 30 and 40 children slaughtered. For Herod this was nothing. Sorrow filled the land Joseph had left.
When it was safe to return the family did so but because of another dream settled in Galilee in a town called Nazareth. Joseph could have used a Blue Christmas service.
And maybe you could too. This is a hard season for many. If it is for you then let Joseph’s hard journey ease yours.
- First, regardless of circumstance, know that you are never out of God’s care. Remember the gifts the Magi brought to the Christ child? Joseph did not know it then but these gifts were most surely to be used to provide for he and his small family as they sojourned in the foreign land of Egypt. In the midst of his own darkness (remember he left for Egypt at “night”) no matter how far he traveled, he was never out of God’s care. And neither are you.
- Second, God is always at work. He may be at work developing just the right circumstances for Jesus to make himself known in your life. He may be at work in suffering to bring about healing. He may be using darkness to help you see the light of Christ more clearly. Your loneliness to lure you to the Lord.
- And lastly dream dreams for your life with God. Joseph was a dreamer. Something about being on track with God’s dream for not only his life but the world kept Joseph following. Even in the darkness. Even in a foreign land. Even while living in a place he did not necessarily want to be. Instead of looking at the negatives he listened for God in his dreams.
God’s dream is to be with you. Immanuel. God with us. Those are words for a Blue Christmas service. Those are words for you when your world is not all right. And it won’t always be. But you are never outside of God’s care. He is always at work. And when you follow his dream of Jesus, Immanuel, being with you, your night will not be so dark or long.
Jesus. God with us. May his light brighten your darkest night.