Service recognizes tension between grief and ‘the most wonderful time of the year’
By the Rev. Shannon Bullion
COLUMBIA—Personalized Christmas ornaments that mark the year have never been more lamenting. In a year that symbolically renders toilet paper and face masks into global consciousness, one must wonder where that leaves the season of “holly, jolly, merry, and bright” that is upon us.
Pandemic is not the only woe this year has held. We have nationally observed what is arguably the most divisive election in a lifetime morph into circus-mirror-absurd, leaving us to see distortion most clearly. We have seen multiple billionaires hailed for their wealth revealed as sexual abusers to the tune of hundreds of women and girls singing a chorus of “me too” that is hardly agreeable. We have seen our Black brothers and sisters cry out continually that their lives matter and that they are “done dying,” only to turn on the news to more bloodshed and violence.
If trauma theologians are calling this the “era of trauma,” then 2020 must be the glory hog of said era. If there has ever been a time for the community of faith to come together in a service of lament, to light candles in the darkness and shed communal tears for all these losses—then 2020 holds that record, too.
The hopeful thing is that God has always birthed God into the world through lowliness. “God has seen me in my lowliness” is Mary’s song. It is the song sung in the vulnerability and humility of a dark night preceding Jesus’s birth.
Similarly, Blue Christmas services are services that hold the tension between grief and “the most wonderful time of the year.”
This year, perhaps especially, we must tune into the fact that not everyone has a case of the “holly jollies.” Some may even feel devoid of such a crumb. So it is a time to truly look out for each other. Check in on anyone that you know has had a hard year or may succumb to depression, ill health, grief or loneliness. Be with them in the lowliness.
Then maybe, just maybe, you will glimpse the birth the world so eagerly awaits.
If your church does not have a Blue Christmas Service, Shandon United Methodist Church invites you to its service. Shandon will host a Blue Christmas Service Monday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m. (masks and social distancing required). The service will also be livestreamed at www.shandon-umc.org. All are welcome. For more information, call 803-256-8383.