imgresMy dear friends,

Tonight,  December 21st, is the longest night of the year.  It’s Winter Solstice, in the final week of Advent, just days before Christmas.  This is the time of the year when many are expecting to feel joy, be that because of their celebration of a religious festival or winter holiday, or simply connecting with family and friends.

But when people hurt, it’s difficult to feel joy.  Many aren’t able to tap into any sense of hope or peace either,  because of personal loss of a loved one, problems with finances, employment, housing, health, fear about the future.

Around this time each year, many churches and communities offer “Blue Christmas” services to try and offset the stress that is being felt by busyness, cacophony and expectations of the holiday season.

But, going out in the evening, when it is dark or the roads are  impassable because of inclement weather or one is unwell, or when the thought of being with others feels even more draining that the festivities at the time of the year seem to bring, makes attendance at such services difficult.

And so, a thought came to me – create a When Christmas Hurts/Blue Christmas ritual for individuals who are sad/blue.  If you are someone for whom peace, hope, joy are elusive at this time of the year, it is my prayer that following along with this liturgy will bring you comfort.

Before you begin, I encourage you to find some candles and a match.   You might find a particular coloured candle or a variety of candle colours is helpful.  Any four candles can help.  I love the colour of royal blue and it “fits” with the Blue Christmas theme and royal blue is the colour of the Season of Advent (the four weeks before Christmas Day) for many.

As each candle is lit (hopefully in a darkened or semi-darkened room to get the effect of the light emanating from the candle), you may want to have some quiet music playing in the background or simply be in silence.  Choose a time and place when tv, children, family, friends, loud music, electronic devices will not be a distraction.

Speak out loud or think / pray each phrase slowly, reflectively. There is no need to hurry. This is your time. Take the time to “be” in the moment.

To begin … take a few slow, deep breaths from your abdomen, inhaling a welcome of peace to yourself and exhaling that which brings anxiety. When you find your breathing has slowed down … begin.


I light this candle to remember those persons who have been loved and lost this past year and in years long ago.

I pause to remember their name(s) … their face(s) … their voice(s).
(Give yourself time to do this.)

I give thanks for the memory that binds them to me at this difficult time.
(Give yourself time to do this) 

May Eternal Love surround them.

            [Silent time for reflection]



I  light this second candle to redeem the pain of loss:
… the loss of relationships
… the loss of employment
… the loss of health
… the loss of hope
… the loss of  Christmas
… the loss of  …
(whatever you are experiencing as ‘loss’ at this time)

(Give yourself time to think of those which apply to you.)

As I  gather up the pain of the past, I offer it, asking that the gift of peace, shalom, wholeness be placed into my heart, my head, my spirit.

(Give yourself time to do this)  

May I be refreshed, restored and renewed.

              [Silent time for reflection]



I light this third candle to remember myself.

I pause and remember the past weeks, months (years)
… the down times
… the poignancy of memories
… the grief
… the sadness
… the hurts
… the fear
… the pain of reflecting on my own mortality
… past Christmases

(Give yourself time to do this.)

May I remember that dawn defeats darkness.

May  I remember the words written on a wall at Dachau prison —
“I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining;
I believe in the stars even when I see them not;
I believe in God even when I don’t see God.”
(or – I believe in Love even when I don’t feel Love.”)

      [Silent time of reflection]



I light this fourth candle to remember the gift of hope.

I lean on the Holy One who shares my life … promises a place and time of no more pain and suffering … and who loves unconditionally

(Give yourself time to do this
… or substitute any phrasing that will be meaningful for you).

May I not forget the One who shows the way and goes with me into my tomorrows.

 [Silent time of reflection]

 Amen.  So be it.  Amen.  (“Amen” means “So be it.”)


The “Blue Christmas” individual ritual/liturgy has now come to a close.

You may want to consider spending time in the darkness … looking at the lit candles … listening to quiet music … soaking in a hot bath … sipping a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate.

May you be assured that there are people who care and people who pray for ‘those who think that no one cares for them’.


© June Maffin
Photographer: Laura Hope (used by permission: Unsplash)