Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blue Christmas

A Reflection By The Rev. Canon Ed Sniecienski

Have you ever wondered how many shades of blue exist? The best explanation I've discovered is that there are an infinite number of possible shades of blue, each changed slightly by adding a new color.

Recently, I heard the question asked “what was your favorite Christmas.” It’s an interesting question.. I know from experience how easy it is for many of us to remember our worst Christmas. For some among us, pain was the only gift under the tree.

Last evening, I attended a service titled: “Blue Christmas: A Service of Comfort & Light.” As the church pews slowly filled, I wondered what shade of blue each participant was carrying like the father and his very young son sitting across from me. Where was the Mom? Or, the man with his head in his hands crying softly? I recognized a transgendered woman in her holiday best.....looking sad and lonely. The gentleman in the pew in front of me clutched a photo of him and his partner. What color blue is mourning? A few rows back, two beautiful women exchanging tissues, holding hands just wanting to live their lives out loud. So many shades of blue.

As candles were lit we prayed –

We lit the first candle for those persons who have been loved and lost. We paused to remember their names, their faces, their voices. We give thanks for the memory that binds them to us this season.

We lit the second candle to redeem the pain of loss: the loss of relationship, the loss of jobs, the loss of health, the loss of dreams. As we gather up the pain of the past, we offer it to You, O God, asking that into our open hands in exchange for the gift of peace.

We light the third candle for ourselves this Christmas time. We paused and remember the past weeks, months and, for some, years of difficult times. We remembered the poignancy of memories, the grief, the sadness, the hurt, the pain of reflecting on our own mortality.

We lit the fourth candle to remember our faith and the gift of hope which God offers to us in the Christmas story. We remembered that God, who shares our lives, promises us a time and place of no more pain and suffering. The time is now and the place is now.

So many shads of blue......and so many shade of hope.

Come, let us join hands and carry the light of the fourth candle into our hearts, lives and the world. One is brighter than two and so forth. Let's exchange our tears for smiles wrapped in light and radiant with hope. The gift of love is freely given and waiting under the tree.

This was a wonderful service! At the end, I felt that the best Christmas was only days away because we can bring our pain and loss to the manger and exchange them for joy, light, and the knowledge that we are beloved by God. And, here's the thing...... God’s love is anything but blue!

A personal note of thanks to the Rev. Carri Patterson Grindon, friend and colleague for offering Blue Christmas: A Service of Comfort & Light at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Altadena. CA.

Ed Sniecienski’s professional career encompasses forty years of diverse experience in the fields of Education, Business and Non-profits. In 2001, he joined the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles as special assistant and senior advisor to the Bishop. In January, 2005, Ed was ordained a Deacon in the Episcopal Church and named Canon in 2007. Recently, he launched Discern with Me an interactive web site where we can share with each other our journeys through the “in-between” places of our lives. Ed is a proud member of Integrity and the LGBT community.

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