Christmas · Church of England · Churches Together in Britain · Felixstowe · Prayer

Remembering at Christmas

In the week before Christmas 2019 a grieving mum asked if there was a ‘Blue 2019-12-22 23.21.21Christmas’ service in any of the Churches in our town.  Previously there had been but this practice had lapsed.  Under the auspices of Churches Together in Felixstowe we gathered together words and prayers from many sources and produced this Order of Service which we now make available to others.

The service took place in a darkened church with those present sitting in a semi-circle of chairs.  The candles of the Advent Wreath were lit from the Paschal Candle which was set in the centre of the semi-circle. To one side was a White Christmas tree which had blue lights decorating it.  Plain gift tags were available for people to write the names of loved ones on them and then hang on the tree.  Several quiet carols were sung but chosen to be sung but music may replace them.

Here follows the text of the service and below it is a link to a pdf of the Service and a sheet of gift tags to cut out:

Remembering at Christmas

Crib clipart Prayers and space for those dealing with loss at Christmas

Please take this service sheet home with you

Welcome to this service

We know that in the midst of life we experience loss and grief
And that the pain of those losses
can be greatest at Christmas.

While you’re here, you won’t be asked to cheer up,
or to ‘look on the bright side’
instead we want to provide space where you may hold your loss before the God who made you and loves you.

During the service there will be a chance to light a candle2019-12-19 09.45.42and write the name of a loved-one on a gift tag.
You’ll be invited to put it on the Memory Tree.
If you prefer, please draw on one, or leave it blank.

Do not feel obliged to do this if you do not feel it appropriate.

Please stay and join us for refreshments at the end of the service.

The clergy and churchwardens offer you their warmest greetings for this Christmas and pray that as you journey through grief you will find peace, reassurance and the knowledge of God’s presence.

If you would find it helpful for one of the Ministry Team to visit you at home, please ask.  Their contact details are below:

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The Welcome

We meet in the presence of God
Who knows our needs, hears our cries,
feels our pain, and heals our wounds.

Carol or Music

Bidding Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer

Dear friends in Christ,
We gather as hurting people, bringing our pain,
our sorrow and our confusion to this place of sanctuary.
We seek God’s healing presence that whatever grief
has touched us or injury that has hurt us, may be made whole.
We look to God for the gifts of mercy and grace
to live lives of boldness and generosity in the middle of our pain
These prayers we bring together in the words Jesus taught us;

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. 
Amen.

Silence is kept

God of mercy, hear our prayer for ourselves and all those
who live with the painful memories of loss.
We ask for strength for today,
courage for tomorrow and peace for the past.
This we ask in the name of Christ
who shares our life in joy and sorrow,
death and birth, despair and promise.
Amen.

Words from Scripture

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

(Isaiah 2:2-4)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

‘See, the home of God is among mortals.  He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes.  Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’

 (Revelation 21:1-4)

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble.  But fear not; I have overcome  the world!

                                                               (John 16:33)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.                                                                             

(John 1:5)

Lighting the Advent Wreath

2019-12-22 23.21.12We light the first candle to remember those we have loved and lost.
We remember their names, their faces, their voices,
and all that binds them to us in this season.
We give thanks for the memories that hold them to us
in this time of expectation, when all Creation waits for the Light.

Silence is kept as the candle is lit 

We remember them with love.
May God’s eternal love surround them.

We light the second candle to remember the pain grief brings,
the loss of part of our lives, the loss of part of our own selves.
We pause to gather up the pain of the past and offer it to God, asking that from God’s hands we may receive the gift of peace. 

Silence is kept as the candle is lit 

We remember that with God all things are possible.
Refresh, restore, renew us O God,
and lead us into your future.

We light the third candle to remember ourselves.
We lay before God, the sharpness of memory,
the sadness and grief, the hurt and fear, the anger and pain.
We lay before God the ways we feel we have fallen short,
and the times we have spent blaming ourselves and God
for all that we have suffered.

Silence is kept as the candle is lit 

We remember that though we have journeyed into darkness
The dawn defeats darkness, life overcomes death.

We light the fourth candle to remember our faith
and the gift of light and hope which the story of Christmas offers.
We remember that God promises us a place and time
when every tear will be wiped away from our eyes.
and mourning and crying and pain will be no more, 

Silence is kept as the candle is lit

We remember the One Who shows the Way,
Who brings the Truth and Who bears the Light.

 (The fifth candle, the Christ candle, remains unlit until Christmas)

Carol or Music

Prayers

God of wisdom,
we come to you this Christmas tired, in turmoil, and in pain.
As the nights have grown longer the darkness
has grown deeper and wrapped itself around our hearts.
In this season of the longest night, we ask for your healing
of all that we carry in our hearts;  the sorrow that we fear
may never end, the wounds we cannot even put into words.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer,

God of mercy and compassion,
some of us are grieving over what might have been.
Death or loss has changed our experience of Christmas.
We remember that once it was a special day for us,
but someone or something precious has gone away.
We have lost a child or a parent, a friend or a partner.
We find ourselves adrift and alone.
We are weary from the journey and find no room in the inn.
We come to you seeking rest, and peace, and shelter from the storm.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer,

God of grace,
grant us all that we need to comfort us
as we journey through this Christmas.
We ask that you shelter and sustain all those,
both here and throughout the world,
who wander or are in want or weep or are heavy laden,
that we may be find the courage to journey onward in your peace.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer,

God of love,
this Christmas we embrace and offer to you
all that used to be which is now lost to us and cannot be again.
With celebration all around us memories of what was,
and fears of what may be, weigh heavy on our hearts.
Hold us close in your embrace, be near to us this night,
until the light returns and morning comes.

Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer,

Keep watch, dear Lord,
with those who work, or watch, or weep this night,
and give thine angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, give rest to the weary,
bless the dying, soothe the suffering,
pity the afflicted, shield the joyous;
and all for thy love’s sake.
Amen.

 Acknowledging our Loss

While music is played those present are invited to light a candle from the Advent Wreath and write the name of a loved one on a gift tag and hang it on the Memory Tree.

Affirmation of Faith

I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining.
I believe in love
even when I don’t feel it’s touch
I believe in God
even when there is silence
We believe in God,
Father Son and Holy Spirit.

(Found on the wall of a concentration camp)

Carol or Music

The Blessing

May God give you
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
For every problem life sends,
a faithful friend to share love,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
and an answer for each prayer.
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

The Peace

Jesus said: Peace I leave with you my peace I give to you,
not as the world gives do I give unto you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Neither let them be afraid.                                                       (John 14.27)

 

The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you.

Please feel free to greet those beside you or to stand quietly.

2019-12-22 23.21.18

Remembering at Christmas

Tree decoration cutouts small

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