Rev. Dr. Chris Dorn
Earlier this month I had a conversation with someone in the congregation about worship services during this time of year. He informed me that in response to the emotional pain with which many struggle during the holiday season, some churches hold “blue Christmas” services. Singing familiar Christmas carols can serve as a tonic to the Christmas blues, temporarily relieving the suffering of those afflicted with them.
I acknowledged the phenomenon, to which I am no stranger myself, and even drew attention to it in an Advent sermon. Interestingly, very recently I received an email from a marketer who had given to it the name, “seasonal sorrow.” He also provided a simple definition: “a feeling of profound distress caused by one’s own emotional problems, exacerbated by the general ex- pectation that one should be excited and jolly at this time of year.” The tonic in this case was something advertised as an “emotional first aid kit,” which evidently consists of a box contain- ing wise emergency advice for 20 difficult situations in life. I deleted the email before I found out how much the kit cost.
We need not feel guilt or shame for not feeling excited or jolly at this time of year. But neither need we ever feel we have to forfeit the peace and joy that are ours in Christ. These do not depend on external circumstances, but on the promise of God’s word. In this regard, we do well to follow the example of Mary. When hearing the words of the gospel proclaimed by the shepherds on that first Christmas night, Mary treasured and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19). On another occasion, another Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to his every word. In so doing, she chose the one thing necessary, which she would never have to give up (Luke 10:42). Indeed, Jesus tells his disciple this same “thing” so that in him they may have peace (John 16: 33). On another occasion, he speaks to them so that his joy may be in them, and that their joy may be complete (John 15:11).
Let us be careful to listen to God’s word during this holiday season, that we too may know the peace and joy that Christ gives,
Have a blessed Christmas.