Today's message was written by my dear friend, Patti Niebojewski, at her request. Patti has had more tragedy in her short life than many have in a lifetime, but meeting her, you would never know it. Her spirit is one of hope and encouragement. Last year, alone she attended a Blue Christmas Service on Dec. 21st that changed her life. This year, she is sharing her experience with us.
Needed: rocks or coins, 4 votive candles to light
This day, the winter solstice takes place. According to Wikipedia, “The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradually lengthening nights and shortening days.” In other words, each day’s sunlight will now be increasing and the night will be shortening by one minute each day! That knowledge alone makes me happier!
Susan’s vision of these 40 days included a category of “nothing blue” - all blogposts are to be positive and uplifting. But this date is known as the “Bluest”. I chose to share on this date because this date is normally known as the “longest night of the year,” where much grief, sadness and/or depression are emotions felt by many for many reasons. My prayer and hope is that you will sense God’s presence in your life as He lifts the darkness and pain in your soul and that you will soon find He replaced your soul full of light and joy.
Loss takes its name in many things; a loss of a loved one, a spouse, parent, child, pet, job, dream, money, health, home, marriage, possible memories, relationship and the list goes on.
Burden takes its name in many things; fighting illness and/or disease, financial burden, job stress, lack of job, overwhelming schedule, a need to forgive, a grudge, just to name a few.
What I ask for you to do is to think about all the loss that you have experienced this year and make a list of all these things that pertain to your life. Also add any burdens that you may have and add these to your list.
For each thing on your list, collect a rock or a coin whatever is easiest. Hold onto them until the end. They are your burdens. I will ask you to place this rock or coin on God’s altar to give it to God. Or, you may hold onto your burdens for as long as you need to, and when you are ready, please release them to God. You may see that the weight of these burdens is heavy. As you release them, my prayer is that you will feel lighter and at peace so that you may be able to enjoy the birth of Christ and rejoice with the angels of the ‘great tidings of joy’.
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
Please speak out loud:
As Jesus cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" How come you do not hear my words or my groaning?
ALL: Dear Heavenly God, my cries are day and night and yet you do not hear me? I cannot rest!
Our forefathers who believed in you had faith in you. They trusted in you and you delivered them.
ALL: You knew me before I was in my mother’s womb. You know the very number of hairs on my head. I am written in the palm of your hand. You are my God.
There is no one to help me and trouble is near. Please stay close Lord.
ALL: I am not alone for you God are with me. Your rod and your staff will comfort me. You will not hide from me but you will shelter me with your everlasting arms, your infinite love and mighty power. When I cry to you God, you hear me. Thank you God!
Please pray with me:
Dear God you are mighty and powerful yet gentle and humble in heart. You are Holy and full of grace. I am not worthy of your love yet you have limited yourself for me. You know me and have searched my heart. You know that my heart is not full of joy, and I confess that I am holding onto my grief, my sadness, and my anger. I do not believe that the angel’s song of ‘great tidings of joy’ is for me. I believe this joy may be for others this year. It is difficult for me to participate in the celebration of your birth. Help me to receive your grace and love. Help me to release to you my grief, my sorrow, and my anger. Forgive me Lord for holding onto it. Forgive me for not realizing that you are walking with me Emmanuel, you travel with me, and you will help carry my burdens. Please restore my soul with light, joy and peace. In His Name, Amen.
The Lighting of the Candles:
We remember as we light the candles:
Candle #1 represents those we loved and lost.
Take the time to remember their names, faces, voices and the memories of them.
Pray: May God’s everlasting love surround them. (Envision them happy in His presence.)
Candle #2 we light to redeem the pain of our loss.
Reflect on the losses that we have listed. Acknowledge the pain of this past year.
Feel it. Now, offer it to God asking him to replace it with peace.
Pray: Lord, take my pain and restore my soul to peace.
Candle #3 we think about ourselves, and all the people who have supported us through our tough times, by prayer and fasting, hugs and kisses, handshakes and pats on the back, financially, dinners, and just stood by us. We are grateful and give thanks to God for them this Christmas season.
Pray: Thank you Lord that the Light outshines and overcomes the darkness.
Candle #4 represents the fire of our faith and the promise of hope that the Christmas story offers to us. The gift from God is the promise that one day we will live with God and he will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away. He is making all things new! Revelations 21:3-5
Pray: We remember God’s gift this Christmas season, the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, the Prince of Peace, the Great Comforter, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Great I Am, worthy to be praised. He is the Word who reveals himself to us in it. Praise, honor and glory be to you Lord Jesus Christ.
May God grant you renewed and continued Peace this Holy Christmas season.
Love, Patti Niebojewski
I thank you for speaking to Patti, and using her to speak to us. May you protect her on the journey she's on and keep her close to You. May you be with those who have suffered loss and won't be having a cheerful Christmas this year. May Your peace sustain them and give them hope. May the words above lead them to release their burdens to You.
For excellent tips on how to cope with Christmas while grieving, please check out this post by Stacie Ruth Stoelting on Lynn Mosher's blog Heading Home.