Blue Christmas

by Pastor Chris Deneen

I’ll Have a Blue Christmas, this year and each year.

This year, here at Our Savior, we are having a special service during Advent, a Blue Christmas service.
For many people, the holiday seasons are bright, they are filled with joy, they are holly and jolly, filled with gatherings, laughter, and moments that will make memories for a lifetime.

For many others, the holiday season isn’t always bright. It isn’t filled with joy, but with struggle. It isn’t filled with laughter, but tears. It isn’t filled with moments that will make memories for a lifetime, but it is a season that is left with just the memories of years that were holly and jolly. For many, this holiday season, is going to be blue.

That is where our Blue Christmas service comes in. This service is meant for those who are struggling this Christmas season. For some, it may be that they lost a loved one this year, in recent years, or at anytime and the grief weighs heavier during the holiday season. For others, it may be that they lost a job and aren’t sure what the next few days, weeks, or months may look like. For others, it may be that their holiday season has been turned completely upside down for whatever reason. For others, it may be a season where they feel alone. There are many reasons why someone might be having a blue Christmas.

I had never personally heard about a Blue Christmas service, until last year, the holiday season of 2022. About a week before Thanksgiving, I got a phone call from my Aunt. I had actually woken up to about 40 missed calls from my dad and my aunt. And then about 3:40 or so in the morning, I answered the phone. My mother had gone to be with Jesus. My mom had health concerns in the past, a major stroke in 2018, but for the most part she was doing well. It was an absolute shock. I, writing this today, can tell you that news changed everything for me. That day I got the phone call, I was originally scheduled to take my oldest daughter, Ida, to a Christmas play in Midland, MI with her “grammy,” my mom. That changed that day. It was the week before Thanksgiving, where I was scheduled to preach on Thanksgiving Eve, and at chapel at our school. That changed that day. We were still figuring out Thanksgiving plans. That all changed when we went from preparing a meal on Thanksgiving, to a funeral the day before Thanksgiving. Then I had to think about how, after Thanksgiving, the world would shift to the bright lights, the twinkling stars, the joyous season of Advent, as we prepare for Christmas. But for me, in the winter of 2022, I had something change: my mom, now celebrating the great celebration with Jesus, would no longer be at our Christmas, and for me, my Christmas was looking and feeling blue.

I will always carry the memories that I have of Christmases past with my mom. But there is no longer the opportunity to make new memories. At a meeting of area Lutheran churches, I found out that a sister congregation, Martin Luther Chapel on MSU’s campus, was having a Blue Christmas service. 

I had no idea what it would look like. I had no real idea what to expect, but I went. And brothers and sisters, as sure as you are reading this blog post,

I am so glad I went.

In the long, dreary, dark days of the winter in Michigan, when days are dark longer than they are bright, where we often can go days or weeks without seeing the sun, where the darkest day of the year resides just days before Christmas, I am so glad I went.

Because what I experienced was this:

A raw, emotional, worship service, centered on the hope and joy of Jesus. Was it a dark day when I went? Absolutely, both metaphorically and literally. Was I having a blue Christmas? Absolutely.


I was able to receive the word of God. I was able to know that I was not alone in my grief. I was able to, in the midst of a dark, dreary, blue Christmas, see the hope and light of Jesus that shines brighter than even the darkest of nights. I was able to hear and be reminded of this truth: My mom is with Jesus. That doesn’t turn the blue Christmas to bright and cheery, but it brings that glimmer of hope in the midst of the darkness.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t still grieve during the holiday season. That doesn’t mean I won’t get choked up almost every time I hear “Silent Night.” But it makes those dark, dreary nights and days and months seem a little less dark as the focus gets pointed back to the Light of the world. The Light who shatters the darkness, who shines within our lives, and who shines through others. No matter how blue or dark your Christmas may be, there is a light, there is THE light, who shines amidst the darkness. I pray that you can experience the light in the darkness at our Blue Christmas service on December 20th at 7 pm.

To answer a few questions that you may have:

Q: Who is invited to the Blue Christmas service? Is it only for people who have lost a loved one?

A: All are invited to join us. We are having this service especially for those people who are struggling with any kind of grief this Christmas season. We invite those who are struggling with addiction, depression or anxiety to join us. We invite those who mourn the loss of loved ones. We invite those who are lonely. We invite those who are battling illness or disease. We invite those who feel completely overwhelmed this holiday season. We invite those who are affected by war, whether they lost loved ones or know those who are near war-torn areas.

Q: Is this only for members of Our Savior?

A: No. If you are reading this, you are invited. And you are invited to invite someone you know that would be blessed by this service. This is a service meant to bring the hope and joy of Jesus to anyone who is struggling with any kind of hardships this Christmas season.

Q: What should I expect?

A: We will have a worship service, that gives adequate time to meditate and focus on the word of God. We will also have a time during the service where you may light a candle to bring your prayer before God. After the service, our Stephen ministers, trained, confidential, Christian listeners, will be willing to listen and pray with you. There will also be a time following the service for our service of healing, a time to be anointed with oil and prayed over. We will also have some light refreshments after the service, for a time of community.

Q: Is there a way for ongoing care from Stephen Ministers?

A: Absolutely. Our Stephen ministers are ready and willing to be that listening ear as you go through a hard time or season of life, through struggles, whatever that may be. They have extensive training and are ready to care for you. We pray that our Stephen ministers would be an extension of the love of Christ. If you are interested in meeting with a Stephen minister, and being paired up with one, you can contact our Church office, and our administrative assistant, Sue Sundstrom, will work with you on that confidential pairing.