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Rituals and Setting for A Blue Christmas Service

“A symbolic action gives everyone the opportunity: to light a candle, place a decoration on a tree, put a gift under it. People should be encouraged to take home the order of service and a symbol such as a smooth stone; a handmade card with a verse of comfort; a candle; or a Christmas decoration.”

Christine Sine offers some more suggestions for creative activities:

A Candle Lighting Ritual by Greta Vosper:

“The leader invites those present to join in the ritual when they are moved to do so by taking a tea light from one end of the table, lighting it from a lit candle, and placing it on the table wherever they would like.”

A Candle Lighting Litany Of Remembrance via Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton.

“Reader: God of Light and Life, we light this candle for all those who are struggling with issues involving physical or mental health. We especially remember those struggling with cancer, depression, or thoughts of suicide. May its light remind us all of the healing available to us in Christ Jesus. Hear our prayers that anguish be minimized and your good plan fulfilled for each who suffer.” (Silent reflection follows)

Blue Christmas by Rev. Nancy C. Townely

“Leader: We light four candles tonight in remembrance of our loved ones. We light these candles for our own needs. We light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories and one for our love.”

Cloth for the Cradle

Cloth for the cradle – remembering via Wellspring Liturgies

Setting: “Place an empty ‘cradle’ in front of the wreath - or in the middle if you are using greenery. This could be as simple as a shoe-box covered in brown paper - remember, the manger was simple!

Ensure you leave enough space for people to move between the candles towards and from it safely! You could even move the candles during the placing of the cloths.

Symbol/ Ritual: Prepare strips of cloth - about 1/2 cm wide. Cotton or similar is best - ensure that it can be written on - preferably with ballpoint or similar pen that won't smudge.

Invite people to write the names of their loved ones - or the situation causing them pain - on the strips. Some will want several strips - others may prefer to put them all on one.

The cloths can then be placed in the ‘cradle’ - people being invited to name their loved one if they wish. Gently encourage people to feel that they are praying for and supporting each other... This can create a beautiful atmosphere which may provoke more tears but which enables people to feel strengthened by the solidarity of others in similar situations.

Once the cloths are in place, it can be helpful to reflect very briefly on the names and that we are entrusting them to the Child who is the Light of the World and light a fifth candle representing Christ. A taper can be lit from this and people invited to light small candles distributed around the wreath.

Allow people time at the end to sit with the names and lights.”

Service that includes the use of ‘Cloth for the Cradle’:

N.B. ‘The Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle’ provides Downloadable Service Sheets and Leaders sheets for this Wellsprings ‘Blue Christmas Service’: