Update: This post is from last year (2009), but the church is offering the same service again this holiday season (2010). Click here for details.
The Pre-Christmas prayer service at church was perfect. Really. Exactly what I needed. A chance to take off the holiday “mask” and actually cry for awhile. I didn’t take my kids with me tonight … I’ve found that I can’t cry much with them around … it just adds to their own grief and sadness when they see me lose it.
.Anyway, it was such a blessed time. Beautiful holiday decorations. Quiet music on the piano. Hymns. Lamentations. Poetry. Carols. Prayer. So peaceful. So gentle. Such a wonderful reminder that God really does care for the broken-hearted. An entire room full of people sniffling and sighing … but finding hope and solace in God in the midst of their trials and griefs.
.When I saw the list of people who may benefit from attending the pre-Christmas prayer time, I knew it was meant for me. People experiencing: “unemployment, under-employment, grief, separation, divorce, marital and family stress, loneliness, illness, diseases,” etc. Pretty much sums up my life the past few years, doesn’t it?
.Just seeing other people this evening who were also grieving and struggling during the holidays was healing. People who were brave enough to take off the holiday mask for a little while. ”Blessed are those who mourn … Blessed are the poor in the spirit …”
.I truly felt like this was the single most “perfect” church service I’ve ever attended. Seriously. It was so real. And healing. And kind. And isn’t that what Christmas (and Christianity, for that matter) should be all about? Light breaking into the darkness. God reaching down and taking humanity and all our struggles into Himself.
.I truly felt blessed tonight. A warm, comforting moment of spiritual reality in the midst of a time of year that’s so frequently nothing more than commercialism run amuck and syrupy “happy” stuff.
.”Oh … tidings of comfort and joy …”