O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
Maybe the first thing we think about when we hear the term ‘Blue Christmas’ is the song made famous by Elvis Presley. And as we begin December no doubt this tune will be ringing out in stores and from radio stations very soon.
Or maybe it might refer to the colour scheme for your Christmas decorations. It is fashionable nowadays to have alternative colour schemes to the traditional red, green and gold.
But Blue Christmas also refers to the idea that for lots of people Christmas can make them feel blue. It is not a happy time, it is not the most wonderful time of the year. This may be because they struggle due to facing debt, homelessness, not being able to buy their children the presents they want. Or they are facing illness or a breakdown in family relationships, living with those who have drink issues or facing the first Christmas without a loved one. The pressures of Christmas are so great that suicide rates increase, family breakdowns rise, because the expectation at Christmas is to celebrate – to eat, drink and be merry – regardless of what we face.
But the real message of the first Christmas is one of God coming…
to those in difficult family relationships, a young girl pregnant in need
to a family forced to be refugees, to save their child from political powers
to shepherds in the fields who were poor and dirty and looked down on
to those living in darkness, pain, with death, fears.
The whole point of Christmas is not about avoiding the reality of real life, but finding God within it. That the good news is about giving hope and the promise of God’s presence to those who need it most.
Elvis sings ‘I’ll have a blue Christmas without you’ and I know this is particularly so for some in our church this year after bereavements, but may we know that Christmas, even if blue, is about knowing we do not celebrate it without God. And if we celebrate it truly, as the story of the first Christmas leads us to, then we will find hope, peace, light and God’s love with us, however we feel and whatever we face. And maybe we will find the most joy, peace and love by being there for others, be that through visiting the lonely, helping at meals for the homeless, giving to the foodbank or charities, protesting about injustices. So, then their Christmas may not be quite as blue as it might otherwise be… without you.
May you have a blessed Christmas and know Immanuel.
God is with us!
God is born in us!
Now that is something to celebrate.