The Dark Side of Christmas

As a Fire Chaplain maybe I see more of this than I should, but this is not a great season for a lot of people.  Anxieties about preparing in just the right way so no one is disappointed, family discord that has never been resolved touch very raw nerves, mental illnesses flare up under the pressure of Christmas expectations, loneliness, despair that can be suicidal, unexpected deaths brought on by too much food or booze or both, and the whole gamut of ordinary sickness seem to be more evident during these weeks.  In this season, when the abounding and steadfast love of God is so vividly manifested in the nativity of our Lord, how can we be alert and responsive to these issues in the right way?  There is probably a good psychological answer to that, but I think the right answer is in the gospel narrative itself.  The rejoicing we offer is a rejoicing that has no requirement but to receive the gift of God incarnate who came precisely for those who find this such a difficult time of year.  I think that’s the right answer, it’s just that we are not very good at doing it.

5 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Christmas”

  1. My heart breaks…. for those who are sad and downtrodden this time of year. Those that are so blue that nothing they can imagine can bring them up. Would that they knew how many \”strangers\’ prayers\” were being said for them. Prayers of please let them know God\’s love, please let them know our love, please let them hang on.My heart breaks….

  2. So much of what I see is a Christmas without God, yes I see some with nativity cutouts in their decorations and yard displays. But, there is a sort of out of step quality to the rush to celebrate before the event, that leads to an absence of the event itself. I think to myself this can\’t be healthy, mentally or physically. Depression is a, what has become natural, event of the season. we blame it on lack of light, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) but perhaps it is lack of another sort of light.

  3. Our church offers a Longest Night Service, a time of worship and reflection, with an opportunity to light a candle in memory of loved ones, whose empty place at the table brings grief. It\’s our smallest service in December, but it\’s become my favorite of the holiday season.

  4. I just read Chris\’s comment about the Longest Night Service. What a wonderful idea. I know friends who grieve now but who would reply that they are \”fine.\” Of course, they are not fine – far from it. A service to remember, to weep, to mourn and pray sounds like a special one that more churches might consider adapting.

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