Gol Lutheran Blue Christmas Service Simply Magnificent
I traveled to Gol Lutheran Church in Kenyon Wednesday night to attend their Blue Christmas/Longest Night Service. A service for those not feeling in a festive mood during the holiday season. I thought it was simply magnificent. I mean that literally. It was magnificent in it's simplicity.
Pastor Paul Graham did not have a long sermon. In fact there was no sermon. There was no offering. The soul purpose and I do mean soul was to provide some hope for those who may be grieving the loss of a loved one, struggling with something in their life or living with challenging health issues. The service was 30 minutes long.
There were ten people in the pews. I can only speak for myself. I was very happy I went and will go again next year if they have the service. Pastor Graham did open with a welcome and a few words to explain what the service was hoping to do. Provide comfort to those not feeling particularly joyous this Christmas.
Pastor Graham said when you think about the very first Christmas there were no lighted trees or singing of songs. A young girl and her husband were forced to have their baby in a barn of sorts in the darkness. It was complicated, (she was a virgin) yet simple. A lot like this life. The greatest gift ever was the baby Jesus delivered to be the Savior of the world and that was the message he wanted to deliver to those feeling blue this Christmas. Jesus was the light provided by God so we don't have to live in darkness.
There were a couple readings and three songs were sung by the small congregation. People lit candles which represented whatever made them "blue" this Christmas and held them while singing "Silent Night."
"Silent Night" is my favorite Christmas Hymn. Because it is a simple appreciation of the first Christmas. "Silent night, holy night. All is calm. All is bright." Pretty simple eh? Who doesn't want to "Sleep in heavenly peace."
The other hymns chosen were, "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" and "Awake, Awake, and Greet the New Morn."
This was the opening prayer we all prayed together:
"O God, we come to you in prayer this night: For all who have a song they cannot sing, For all who have a burden they cannot bear, For all who live in chains they cannot break, For all who wander homeless and cannot return, For those who are sick, and for those who supply care to them. For those who wait for loved ones, and wait in vain, For those who live in hunger, And for those who will not share their bread, For those who are misunderstood, And for those who misunderstand, For those whose words of love are locked within their hearts, and for those who yearn to hear those words. Show us the way, O God, for we your people walk in darkness."
(Adapted from a prayer by Ann Weems in Soul Weaving: A Gathering of Women's Prayers, Lyn Klug, ed. Minneapolis:Augsburg, 1996)