For the Blue Christmas service this year, I wrote a poem (as my sermon)
At Christmas time, I see many colors
This is one of the joys of Christmas, the colors.
The colors on the tree, the colors in the windows
Oh yes, I see many colors at Christmas.
I see greens in wreaths that grace doorways
I see velvet on Mary and I see velvet on little girl’s dresses
I see straw yellow around Jesus and in my golden retriever running around the tree
I see sparkling rubies in wise men’s robes and I see sparking ornaments on Christmas trees.
I remember my first Christmas after my grandmother died.
I expected bright gold as I anticipated seeing her again
Gold, something bright, something eternal, something lovely
I knew I wouldn’t see her again on Christmas, for she had died
But I expected colors. Bright colors that would somehow tell me
I’m here Rob.
I did not hear that voice.
I did not see gold.
That year I saw purple.
Purple, the color of Lent, the season before Easter.
The season in which we walk with Jesus to the cross.
That was an odd color to see on Christmas Eve
A color I associate with fasting, discipline and even death…
Purple is a part of Christmas though, as the hymn reminds us:
Nails, nails shall pierce him through, a cross be born for me and you.
But I did not want to see this color.
I wanted to a soft glow emerge from the manger, to see that life wins, to see joy unfolding before my eyes
I wanted to see everything put back together
I wanted my family put back together.
This year I have seen a lot of red and black;
I have seen the posters and signs UV stickers that tell me
In red and black
At first I understood the what and why of this slogan
We wanted to come together and stand united in the face of death
As if we could fight it ourselves, somehow stand up and not let it get the last laugh
But death is a mighty foe, one whose weapons are ancient and unrelenting.
And so, I’ve begun to say, ever so softly
Weep for your children
Weep for your loss of innocence.
Weep because we are out of words
Weep Warwick weep
We may be out of words, but this world, this world that God made, is not out of colors
No, Christmas still has it’s colors: red, black, green, blue
But is there gold?
The gold of the angels, the gold of the magi, the gold of the Christ child is there
Do not fear if you cannot see the gold this year
If all you can see is purple or blue or red or some other color
For there is Gold, there is a promise of God’s love
There is a promise of hope that even death will finally kneel
And adore on bended knee the new born king
My desire is to wrap Christmas in a beautiful bow
To cover up all the grief in streams of gold and silver and glory
As if grief was simply a stage, something to be dealt with
Something that could be packaged
But I know it is not.
Grief is too powerful, too present, too elusive for this.
Oh how I long to put it all back together
The pastor’s, the care-givers’ torture
To realize we cannot put humpty dumpty back together
And heal every heart
And make Christmas back to the way it was, it is and ever more shall be. Forever. Amen.
I offer no packages of grief boxed up and painted over.
I offer a promise:
The Christ child’s love is big enough.
Big enough to handle your grief,
or whatever else you bring tonight.
For unto you, whatever color you see, a savior is born.