Author Topic: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?  (Read 3862 times)

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2019, 03:00:22 PM »

Our local funeral home has held one of these services each year.  The funeral director asks each church/pastor in town, in turn, to officiate (not at the same service, but to lead the service that particular year).  It has been very well-received by the community.  It was my turn several years ago and was glad to do it.  Several members who had lost loved ones that year were present, and they expressed their appreciation for the service as that first Christmas without their loved one was hard -- often, harder than they had imagined it would be.  It has served as yet another way that the community bonds together, as they share their grief.  Perhaps this is more important and obvious in small communities, like ours.

As to Rev. Austin's crass comments:

1) We only have one funeral home in town, so he doesn't really have to worry about competition.  In fact, there are times when I suppose he would actually welcome another funeral home in the community, since he is too busy.

2) The director has served in this community for something like 40 years (yes, he is getting up there but he can't retire as there is no one to take his place -- he has tried!).  If anyone in town is connected and in the know about "future customers", it is Jim.  He has buried generations of the same families.  They know him, they trust him, they appreciate him.

3) I could not ask for a more deferential and respectful treatment than I have received from this funeral home.  Far from overstepping, the staff always takes great pains to ensure that things are done as the officiating pastor directs.

This is almost word-for-word my experience here on the prairie, in a town that's not really on the way to anywhere (anymore at least), 75 miles from the nearest McDonald's or Walmart.

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2019, 03:05:08 PM »
I've also generally found funeral directors to be compassionate, sympathetic, supportive of my vocation. Some exceptions, of course, but on the whole, people with their own vocation to serve those in need.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2019, 03:18:51 PM »
In south central Pennsylvania these have sometimes been called "Longest Night/Blue Christmas" and have been timed to more or less coincide with Winter Solstice; sometimes organized by a Funeral Home but more frequently by a Protestant congregation served by female clergy.


Now that's an interesting comment. Why do you think female clergy would be more likely to organize such a service? (My female successor did so at my congregation; haven't heard if it is continuing since her departure.)

I also have always had a kind of ambivalent, leaning toward negative, feeling about such a service, for all the reasons that have been listed here. I know the emotions involved; my wife's parents both died shortly before Christmas, my own father in October. But those griefs were best taken to the community's Advent and Nativity worship. I wonder if most of the people who find such services useful are those who do not have a firm anchor in a faith community? Or perhaps an anchor in a community that insists on making Christmas start in late November, so the nuances of the season are lost?

Are you thinking that those who attended these special services do not attend their congregations' Advent and Christmas services?  That is not the case with those members from my congregations that attended the special services at the funeral home.  It is not a case of either/or but rather both/and -- and they found blessings and benefits in attending both.

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2019, 03:27:21 PM »

Our local funeral home has held one of these services each year.  The funeral director asks each church/pastor in town, in turn, to officiate (not at the same service, but to lead the service that particular year).  It has been very well-received by the community.  It was my turn several years ago and was glad to do it.  Several members who had lost loved ones that year were present, and they expressed their appreciation for the service as that first Christmas without their loved one was hard -- often, harder than they had imagined it would be.  It has served as yet another way that the community bonds together, as they share their grief.  Perhaps this is more important and obvious in small communities, like ours.

As to Rev. Austin's crass comments:

1) We only have one funeral home in town, so he doesn't really have to worry about competition.  In fact, there are times when I suppose he would actually welcome another funeral home in the community, since he is too busy.

2) The director has served in this community for something like 40 years (yes, he is getting up there but he can't retire as there is no one to take his place -- he has tried!).  If anyone in town is connected and in the know about "future customers", it is Jim.  He has buried generations of the same families.  They know him, they trust him, they appreciate him.

3) I could not ask for a more deferential and respectful treatment than I have received from this funeral home.  Far from overstepping, the staff always takes great pains to ensure that things are done as the officiating pastor directs.

This is almost word-for-word my experience here on the prairie, in a town that's not really on the way to anywhere (anymore at least), 75 miles from the nearest McDonald's or Walmart.

RPG+

Eureka!  You have found it!  My first call was to a small, isolated dual parish (nearest Walmart or McDonald's was "only" 60 miles for me!) but the sense of community was outstanding.  Something that I think those who serve their whole ministry in large urban settings maybe cannot fully understand or appreciate.  God bless you and your service to His saints there!!!

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2019, 04:31:10 PM »
In south central Pennsylvania these have sometimes been called "Longest Night/Blue Christmas" and have been timed to more or less coincide with Winter Solstice; sometimes organized by a Funeral Home but more frequently by a Protestant congregation served by female clergy.


Now that's an interesting comment. Why do you think female clergy would be more likely to organize such a service? (My female successor did so at my congregation; haven't heard if it is continuing since her departure.)


It may be as simple as "men are from Mars and women are from Venus". 

Nowadays it ispolitically incorrect to state the obvious, but the genders think differently, with women generally being more attuned to the emotions and feelings of others.

I am trying to be as objective as possible--albeit objectivity is a male/Martian cliche.
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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2019, 04:56:22 PM »
Things may be nice and cozy in the Midwest, but out in the cutthroat, partially pagan East there is competition and the "funeral business" is a big-time thing. I worked mainly with the one I mentioned, who had the town where my parish was rather sewed up; but some of the others... well. There was one where I would drive my own car to the cemetery rather than listen to his quasi-racist and entitled elitist rants while riding in the hearse. And with one, who was about to stage-manage the church funeral, I had to say firmly that the moment the casket enters the doors of the church, I am in charge, and I remain in charge until the final words at the graveside committal.
One funeral home invited clergy to a breakfast and, liking breakfast, especially when it is free at a fancy place, I went, only to find myself the target of his mailings and mailings from others to whom he had sold my name. How do I know this? We all signed in and someone misread my middle initial, so mail from him and the others came to me with the wrong middle initial.
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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #21 on: November 22, 2019, 04:59:22 PM »
Things may be nice and cozy in the Midwest, but out in the cutthroat, partially pagan East there is competition and the "funeral business" is a big-time thing. I worked mainly with the one I mentioned, who had the town where my parish was rather sewed up; but some of the others... well. There was one where I would drive my own car to the cemetery rather than listen to his quasi-racist and entitled elitist rants while riding in the hearse. And with one, who was about to stage-manage the church funeral, I had to say firmly that the moment the casket enters the doors of the church, I am in charge, and I remain in charge until the final words at the graveside committal.
One funeral home invited clergy to a breakfast and, liking breakfast, especially when it is free at a fancy place, I went, only to find myself the target of his mailings and mailings from others to whom he had sold my name. How do I know this? We all signed in and someone misread my middle initial, so mail from him and the others came to me with the wrong middle initial.
It's sad that you've run into such funeral directors, I have no doubt that some are like that, especially in the cutthroat, partially pagan East. Therefore all of us need to be acutely suspicious of every funeral director,  and reject anything that they offer or suggest because they are all tarred with the same brush.  Just like all liberals are Godless radicals who are out to destroy the American family, impose their beliefs on all churches, and destroy the American economy for the sake of a few spotted owls.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2019, 05:12:50 PM by Dan Fienen »
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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2019, 05:03:13 PM »

Our local funeral home has held one of these services each year.  The funeral director asks each church/pastor in town, in turn, to officiate (not at the same service, but to lead the service that particular year).  It has been very well-received by the community.  It was my turn several years ago and was glad to do it.  Several members who had lost loved ones that year were present, and they expressed their appreciation for the service as that first Christmas without their loved one was hard -- often, harder than they had imagined it would be.  It has served as yet another way that the community bonds together, as they share their grief.  Perhaps this is more important and obvious in small communities, like ours.

As to Rev. Austin's crass comments:

1) We only have one funeral home in town, so he doesn't really have to worry about competition.  In fact, there are times when I suppose he would actually welcome another funeral home in the community, since he is too busy.

2) The director has served in this community for something like 40 years (yes, he is getting up there but he can't retire as there is no one to take his place -- he has tried!).  If anyone in town is connected and in the know about "future customers", it is Jim.  He has buried generations of the same families.  They know him, they trust him, they appreciate him.

3) I could not ask for a more deferential and respectful treatment than I have received from this funeral home.  Far from overstepping, the staff always takes great pains to ensure that things are done as the officiating pastor directs.

This is almost word-for-word my experience here on the prairie, in a town that's not really on the way to anywhere (anymore at least), 75 miles from the nearest McDonald's or Walmart.

RPG+

Eureka!  You have found it!  My first call was to a small, isolated dual parish (nearest Walmart or McDonald's was "only" 60 miles for me!) but the sense of community was outstanding.  Something that I think those who serve their whole ministry in large urban settings maybe cannot fully understand or appreciate.  God bless you and your service to His saints there!!!
Thanks, Pr. Bohler!  I both appreciate and enjoy serving here a great deal.
The Rev. Ryan P. Gage
Eureka, SD

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #23 on: November 22, 2019, 05:50:05 PM »
Things may be nice and cozy in the Midwest, but out in the cutthroat, partially pagan East there is competition and the "funeral business" is a big-time thing. I worked mainly with the one I mentioned, who had the town where my parish was rather sewed up; but some of the others... well. There was one where I would drive my own car to the cemetery rather than listen to his quasi-racist and entitled elitist rants while riding in the hearse. And with one, who was about to stage-manage the church funeral, I had to say firmly that the moment the casket enters the doors of the church, I am in charge, and I remain in charge until the final words at the graveside committal.
One funeral home invited clergy to a breakfast and, liking breakfast, especially when it is free at a fancy place, I went, only to find myself the target of his mailings and mailings from others to whom he had sold my name. How do I know this? We all signed in and someone misread my middle initial, so mail from him and the others came to me with the wrong middle initial.

Here in NYC we have had some really great funeral directors through the years, and then some who were less than on the up and up.  A mixed bag, same as any other business/profession.  I had a tough funeral once while filling in for a vacationing pastor - a young girl who had died tragically.  So I ended up with the director in the hearse to a burial plot about 2 1/2 hours away near Great Adventure in New Jersey.  As I finished the service, he said, "so long, Father - I'm meeting my girlfriend in Newark, so you'll have to get back on your own."  And off he went.  In the hearse.  Must have been some girlfriend experience there.  I had to flag down the limo, which was already full, and squeeze in for the lovely 2 1/2 hour return trip.  The same guy, on the way, said, "So you're not from around here, are you (in the NY accent).  I said, "No, I'm originally from Wisconsin."  He replied, "That's right next to Georgia, isn't it?"  I'm looking at the guy, and eventually I replied, "Close enough."  So yes, funeral directors can be uneven in quality.

Dave Benke

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #24 on: November 22, 2019, 08:18:47 PM »
Things may be nice and cozy in the Midwest, but out in the cutthroat, partially pagan East there is competition and the "funeral business" is a big-time thing. I worked mainly with the one I mentioned, who had the town where my parish was rather sewed up; but some of the others... well. There was one where I would drive my own car to the cemetery rather than listen to his quasi-racist and entitled elitist rants while riding in the hearse. And with one, who was about to stage-manage the church funeral, I had to say firmly that the moment the casket enters the doors of the church, I am in charge, and I remain in charge until the final words at the graveside committal.
One funeral home invited clergy to a breakfast and, liking breakfast, especially when it is free at a fancy place, I went, only to find myself the target of his mailings and mailings from others to whom he had sold my name. How do I know this? We all signed in and someone misread my middle initial, so mail from him and the others came to me with the wrong middle initial.

Here in NYC we have had some really great funeral directors through the years, and then some who were less than on the up and up.  A mixed bag, same as any other business/profession.  I had a tough funeral once while filling in for a vacationing pastor - a young girl who had died tragically.  So I ended up with the director in the hearse to a burial plot about 2 1/2 hours away near Great Adventure in New Jersey.  As I finished the service, he said, "so long, Father - I'm meeting my girlfriend in Newark, so you'll have to get back on your own."  And off he went.  In the hearse.  Must have been some girlfriend experience there.  I had to flag down the limo, which was already full, and squeeze in for the lovely 2 1/2 hour return trip.  The same guy, on the way, said, "So you're not from around here, are you (in the NY accent).  I said, "No, I'm originally from Wisconsin."  He replied, "That's right next to Georgia, isn't it?"  I'm looking at the guy, and eventually I replied, "Close enough."  So yes, funeral directors can be uneven in quality.

Dave Benke

Or maybe it is just New York/New Jersey ones that are the problem.  :)

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #25 on: November 22, 2019, 11:31:54 PM »
One - thankfully, I've had on the whole good experiences working with funeral homes.


Two - I've done Blue Christmas/Longest Night/Festival of St. Thomas almost every December.  It was a congregational worship service, so anyone could attend.  Generally, it wasn't well attended, but for those who did attend, incredibly meaningful.  I tended to focus on the light no darkness can overcome, what it is to doubt (Thomas), etc.

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2019, 12:13:14 AM »
One - thankfully, I've had on the whole good experiences working with funeral homes.


Two - I've done Blue Christmas/Longest Night/Festival of St. Thomas almost every December.  It was a congregational worship service, so anyone could attend.  Generally, it wasn't well attended, but for those who did attend, incredibly meaningful.  I tended to focus on the light no darkness can overcome, what it is to doubt (Thomas), etc.

I have always been struck by the intersection of the traditional Western Feast of St. Thomas with the "Great O" Antiphons. 

"O Key of David" is used beginning at Vespers on the 20th (thus all day on the Feast)

O Come Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our Heaven'ly home
Make straight the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery


"The way which leads on high" is a wonderful counterpoint to the faithful (NOT doubting) Apostle who, at the Last Supper, asked "Lord, we do not know where you are going--how can we know 'the way'?"   

Since that question is part of one of the favorite default pericopes for Lutheran Funerals there are great possibilities--even greater if placed in the context of the Eucharistic liturgy keeping in mind Von Schenk's All Saints' meditation.
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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #27 on: November 23, 2019, 01:17:50 PM »
Things may be nice and cozy in the Midwest, but out in the cutthroat, partially pagan East there is competition and the "funeral business" is a big-time thing. I worked mainly with the one I mentioned, who had the town where my parish was rather sewed up; but some of the others... well. There was one where I would drive my own car to the cemetery rather than listen to his quasi-racist and entitled elitist rants while riding in the hearse. And with one, who was about to stage-manage the church funeral, I had to say firmly that the moment the casket enters the doors of the church, I am in charge, and I remain in charge until the final words at the graveside committal.
One funeral home invited clergy to a breakfast and, liking breakfast, especially when it is free at a fancy place, I went, only to find myself the target of his mailings and mailings from others to whom he had sold my name. How do I know this? We all signed in and someone misread my middle initial, so mail from him and the others came to me with the wrong middle initial.

Here in NYC we have had some really great funeral directors through the years, and then some who were less than on the up and up.  A mixed bag, same as any other business/profession.  I had a tough funeral once while filling in for a vacationing pastor - a young girl who had died tragically.  So I ended up with the director in the hearse to a burial plot about 2 1/2 hours away near Great Adventure in New Jersey.  As I finished the service, he said, "so long, Father - I'm meeting my girlfriend in Newark, so you'll have to get back on your own."  And off he went.  In the hearse.  Must have been some girlfriend experience there.  I had to flag down the limo, which was already full, and squeeze in for the lovely 2 1/2 hour return trip.  The same guy, on the way, said, "So you're not from around here, are you (in the NY accent).  I said, "No, I'm originally from Wisconsin."  He replied, "That's right next to Georgia, isn't it?"  I'm looking at the guy, and eventually I replied, "Close enough."  So yes, funeral directors can be uneven in quality.

Dave Benke

Or maybe it is just New York/New Jersey ones that are the problem.  :)

While this is a strong possibility, it's not an exclusive list.  A thread with funeral stories would be a good way for clergy, at least, to get some of the rare tales that go under the category "strange but true" that we harbor out into the open. 
Same with wedding stories.   Maybe it would have to include anonymity, though.

Dave Benke

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #28 on: November 23, 2019, 07:39:16 PM »
I have conducted these Blue Christmas services at two congregations I have served. We held the services in the mid to late afternoon on the third or fourth Sunday of Advent. The gatherings are intimate and have been very meaningful.

I know some of you will not like the name of the page this is from -  but it is a nice framework for a Blue Christmas worship. https://youngclergywomen.org/blue-christmas-service-when-christmas-hurts/

I know it is hypocritical, but I donít think I am able to conduct a Blue Christmas service myself this year as I am still dealing with my own grief. I might attend such a service but donít feel capable of being the leader this time. I would encourage any pastor to offer this worship opportunity.

Thank you for thinking of the hurting folks at this time of the year.

Donna
A pastor of the North American Lutheran Church.

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Re: "Blue" Christmas Service resources?
« Reply #29 on: November 23, 2019, 08:18:25 PM »
Things may be nice and cozy in the Midwest, but out in the cutthroat, partially pagan East there is competition and the "funeral business" is a big-time thing. I worked mainly with the one I mentioned, who had the town where my parish was rather sewed up; but some of the others... well. There was one where I would drive my own car to the cemetery rather than listen to his quasi-racist and entitled elitist rants while riding in the hearse. And with one, who was about to stage-manage the church funeral, I had to say firmly that the moment the casket enters the doors of the church, I am in charge, and I remain in charge until the final words at the graveside committal.
One funeral home invited clergy to a breakfast and, liking breakfast, especially when it is free at a fancy place, I went, only to find myself the target of his mailings and mailings from others to whom he had sold my name. How do I know this? We all signed in and someone misread my middle initial, so mail from him and the others came to me with the wrong middle initial.

Here in NYC we have had some really great funeral directors through the years, and then some who were less than on the up and up.  A mixed bag, same as any other business/profession.  I had a tough funeral once while filling in for a vacationing pastor - a young girl who had died tragically.  So I ended up with the director in the hearse to a burial plot about 2 1/2 hours away near Great Adventure in New Jersey.  As I finished the service, he said, "so long, Father - I'm meeting my girlfriend in Newark, so you'll have to get back on your own."  And off he went.  In the hearse.  Must have been some girlfriend experience there.  I had to flag down the limo, which was already full, and squeeze in for the lovely 2 1/2 hour return trip.  The same guy, on the way, said, "So you're not from around here, are you (in the NY accent).  I said, "No, I'm originally from Wisconsin."  He replied, "That's right next to Georgia, isn't it?"  I'm looking at the guy, and eventually I replied, "Close enough."  So yes, funeral directors can be uneven in quality.

Dave Benke

Or maybe it is just New York/New Jersey ones that are the problem.  :)

Nope- 10 years serving on LI. I always appreciated the work of the various funeral directors with whom I worked.
Matt Hummel


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