Clergy Corner: It doesn’t have to be a ‘Blue Christmas’

Chrismon service pays tribute to those we miss during the holidays

File Photo
Pastor Ronald Ritter, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

■ By Ronald Ritter / Contributed

Christmas 2017 is the 60th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s recording of a piece of secular music called “Blue Christmas.” The words of “Blue Christmas” stand in stark contrast to virtually all other Christmas music in the non-religious category.
The carefree playfulness of “Frosty the Snowman,” the cheerfulness of “Jingle Bells,” the untroubled Christmas Eve navigational expertise offered by “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and the lighthearted journey of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” offer a fictitious Christmas world where everything turns out all right with a hearty Ho-Ho-Ho, and a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
There must be something universally appealing to the message of “Blue Christmas,” because, as many as 65 other recording artists have delivered its moving lyrics since its introduction in 1948 when it was originally recorded by Doyle O’Dell. Here are the words.

“I’ll have a blue Christmas without you;
I’ll be so blue thinking about you.
Decorations of red
on a green Christmas tree
Won’t mean a thing if
you’re not here with me
I’ll have a blue Christmas, that’s certain;
And when that blue heartache starts hurting,
You’ll be doing all right
with your Christmas of white,
But I’ll have a blue, blue Christmas.”

These words describe the gut-wrenching pain following the loss of unrequited love that is magnified during the Christmas season. In an eerily haunting and strikingly personal way, these words can also describe the intense and sometimes intractable pain surrounding the loss of a loved one through death.
The usual joy that accompanies the Christmas season can be significantly dampened by the death of a family member, a close personal friend, a very beloved pet, the loss of a home, a job, or anyone or anything in whom a strong, desirable, comforting and lasting relationship has been formed and counted upon.
Very sadly, we live in a culture that goes out of its way to avoid those carrying the terribly heavy burden of the loss of a loved one. This avoidance is especially present when surrounded by and immersed in all the secular frivolity that accompanies the Christmas season.
There are a number of commendable efforts within our community to offset the sense of abandonment that many bereaved persons experience during the holidays. None, however, are able to capture and apply the truth contained in God’s word revealed in Psalm 34:18, “God is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” as a church. God’s people are there to lighten the burden by fulfilling the law of Christ that is love.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church at 701 N. Sanderson Ave. in Hemet will observe its 8th annual Service of Remembrance on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. The service will include the placing of a personalized Psalm 34:18 ornament (Chrismon) on the Remembrance Tree. Those in our San Jacinto Valley Community who are carrying the heavy burden of grief at this time of the year are welcome and encouraged to attend. Our ad describing this service is at the bottom of this page.

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