THE COLORS OF CHRISTMAS
A BLUE CHRISTMAS
Blue is my favorite color. Who else likes blue as their favorite color? Having blue as your favorite color says this about your personality. You are calm, cool & collected!
Blue is associated with some positive qualities. It is associated with depth & stability. Blue symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith & truth.
But the color blue has come to have some negative connotations. To be blue is to be down, sad & depressed. A person will say, “I am feeling blue”, or “I’ve get a case of the blues.” (every time I watch the Cowboys!).
To “sing the blues” means that you are complaining or lamenting about something.
The association of the color blue with sadness has been immortalized in song. Even at Christmastime. Elvis sang A Blue Christmas. I would do my best Elvis impersonation and sing it for you, but my Elvis costume is at the cleaners.
Yes, sometimes, even at Christmas, people suffer through a blue, sad Christmas. To acknowledge this, some churches have what they call The Longest Night or Blue Christmas service. They hold The Longest Night service on the night of December 21st, which is the longest night of the year. This Blue Christmas service has a melancholy, somber tone to it. It’s for all those who have suffered loss during the year.
Sometimes, when Christmas rolls around it becomes a blue Christmas & it’s because someone/something has changed the lines when it comes to our personal Christmas narrative.
John Simmons tells about a grade school class that was putting on their Christmas play. One little boy in the class wanted to play the part of Joseph. Instead he got the role of the innkeeper. The role of Joseph went to another boy that he couldn’t stand. So he plotted to get even with his rival.
On the night of the performance, Mary & Joseph came and knocked on the door of the inn. The innkeeper opened the door & Joseph said, “We’d like a room for the night.” The little boy playing the innkeeper threw open the door & said, “Come on in. I’ll give you the best room in the house.”
Of course, that line wasn’t in the script. The other little boy, who was playing Joseph, didn’t know what to do for a moment or two. But finally he had an idea. He stepped inside the door and looked around. He stepped back out and said to the innkeeper, “No wife of mine is going to stay in a dump like this. Come one Mary, let’s go to the barn.”
Sometimes the script gets flipped for us at Christmas. And Christmastime isn’t what you envision it to be. And so, instead of singing Joy To The World, you end up singing the blues at Christmas.
Sometimes, Christmas doesn’t go according to plan. That’s what happened to Mary & Joseph during the first Christmas night. That very first Christmas was difficult. It was A Blue Christmas.
And yet, in the midst of a night that was anything but calm and bright, Mary & Joseph received a blessing that reminded them of the bigger picture of Christmas. I pray that their story will inspire you to remain hopeful even when you experience A Blue Christmas.
But let’s begin by admitting this reality that……
READ LUKE 2:1-7
You’ve probably heard about those stress tests you take that give a numeric value to the stressful things in your life. Things like being newly married, moving, a new home & a new baby, those are the stress points that rank the highest. The goal is to avoid too many high stress events in too short of a time period.
Well, Mary & Joseph’s stress level was off the charts! During that very first Christmas they experienced a lot of stress that caused them to have a Blue Christmas.
First, there was relational stress. What Mary & Joseph went through was not the easiest way to start a marriage. They were newly married, Mary was pregnant & they had to go to Bethlehem for this census. They must have felt a lot of pressure.
On top of all that, they had to deal with the gossip surrounding Mary’s pregnancy. Family and friends probably didn’t buy the story about an angel informing Mary that she would conceive a child by the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph himself didn’t believe Mary’s story at first. He was going to divorce Mary until an angel appeared to him and explained everything to him.
Sometimes Christmas can be sad because of all the relationship stress in our lives. You might be dealing with a broken friendship or relationship. There may be someone this Christmas that you won’t be sending a Christmas card to or buying a gift for because you are on the outs with them.
Or you may not be looking forward to a family get together because you have that one annoying relative. You know the person I’m talking about. He shows up and he’s kinda like Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation.
This Christmas may be stressful for you because this will be the first Christmas without a loved one who has passed away. But a loved one’s passing doesn’t have to be recent for you to miss them at Christmas time. Christmas has a way of triggering memories and you especially miss a loved one at Christmas.
For some, relationship stress comes in the form of having to spend Christmas all alone. Relational stress can cause a joyous Christmas to be a blue one.
The second stress factor for Mary & Joseph was physical stress. Mary was full-term in her pregnancy and now they had to travel to Bethlehem. When a woman is about to give birth, that’s not the time to take a trip. She wants to stay home, close to her doctor, the hospital and her mother.
I am sure that the trip itself was physically taxing on Mary. It’s 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They had no car. There were no buses, trains or airplanes. Mary probably traveled via donkey and felt every jostle.
There was more physical stress once they arrived at the Bethlehem Inn. Joseph goes to register for a room. He approaches the innkeeper and gets bad news. Not only does the Inn not get ESPN but they don’t have any vacancies. Joseph goes to inform Mary about this and she tells Joseph that she’s beginning to have contractions.
Mary and Joseph have to take shelter in the stable amidst all the animals. Joseph takes a little hay and makes a makeshift bassinet out of the animals’ feeding trough. A barn was not the place that Mary envisioned being when she would give birth to her son.
There may be some physical stress issues that are complicating your Christmas celebration this year. You have some health issue going on and it’s tough right now to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.
Perhaps your physical stress comes from being tired and worn out. For you, Christmas has come to be more of a marathon than a celebration because there is just too much going on. Your schedule is exhausting. There are parties and get-togethers to go to. There is the shopping, addressing dozens of Christmas cards t and the travel to deal with. And you are relieved when Christmas is finally over!
A third stress point for Mary & Joseph is the emotional stress factor. 8 days after Jesus is born, Mary & Joseph take Jesus to the temple to be dedicated. Once there, Mary hears a very unsettling prophecy about Jesus from a godly man named Simeon.
Read Luke 2:34-35. Simeon’s words were a foreshadowing of what it will be like for Mary when 33 years later Jesus would be crucified. Mary’s soul would be filled with grief as she watched her son die.
Do you have any emotional stress going on in your life right now? Are you anxious and worried about anything? You may be dealing with some difficult circumstances right now. And you are discouraged and feeling defeated. Depression is a reality for so many at Christmas.
Another source of stress for Mary & Joseph was financial stress. Mary and Joseph were poor, peasant people. The offering that they gave at the temple when they took Jesus to be dedicated was the offering that poor people gave. And then there was the financial stress that came with the census. Everyone knew what the census meant. Rome would be raising everyone’s taxes!
Do you have any financial challenges going on right now? If so, they don’t go away at Christmas. Bills still have to be paid at Christmas. Unexpected expenses pop up at Christmas. You want to be Christmas gifts and you really don’t know how you are going to pay for them.
Yes, sometimes we will face a blue Christmas, one that is filled with stress and sadness. Sometimes that’s the reality. Sometimes there are circumstances that are beyond our control to control. Sometimes, just like it was for Mary & Joseph, we go through a Christmas filled with pain, sorrow, loneliness, grief and frustration.
But even during a blue Christmas, there is still hope. The Bible promises:
“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” -Psalm 30:5
Even though Mary & Joseph faced a lot of adversity that first Christmas, they experienced an event that helped them understand the bigger picture of Christmas. I hope that, even in the midst of your struggles and sadness, you too will understand that…..
Christmas is still a season of joy because Jesus came to join us on our journey. Jesus, at his birth, would be called Immanuel, which means God with us. God entered the world in a stable, born to a poor teen-age girl in the presence of a carpenter from Nazareth. When Jesus arrived into the world, all of Mary & Joseph’s stress and anxiety gave way to incredible, overwhelming joy. God’s Son was with them.
The story of Christmas is that God came and dwelt among us. God came, in the person of Jesus, in part, so that he could share your story with you and walk with you through it. So this Christmas, just remember, that no matter what you’re going through, God is with you.
And, just in case you have forgotten that truth, may I share just a few Scriptures with you that will remind you of the reality that God is with you; that he will never leave you nor forsake you?
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
And here is another promise. The God who is with you is also for you.
“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31
God is for us. He is on our side. No one and nothing can really, ultimately, be against us.
God has compassion for you. The word compassion comes from 2 Latin words which mean, “to suffer” & “with”. God came to suffer alongside you. He has come to join you in your story; to walk you through it; to redeem it and to make a beautiful tribute to his power in your life.
Christmas is still a season of joy because Jesus brought us salvation. This message of hope was confirmed to Mary & Joseph by the shepherds who came to share the angel’s message. Read Luke 2:8-16
The good news of great joy that the angel shared with the shepherds is a Savior had been born. Jesus would save his people from their sins. He will save you from your sins. He will save me from my sins.
I have always liked the following thought. Perhaps you have read it somewhere, perhaps on a Christmas Card. It reminds us what is truly important:
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior.
No matter what you have or don’t have; no matter what you are going through, the bigger picture of Christmas is that you have a Savior. That is reason enough to rejoice.
The third reason that Christmas is still a season of joy is because one day God will flip the script of your story in a positive, eternal way. Revelation 21:4 promises that in heaven:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old older of things has passed away.”
God knows all about your struggles and the pain that you are going through. He promises to take away all of your suffering and sadness forever in heaven. You may have to go through a blue Christmas here on earth, but eternal joy awaits you if you are a Christian.
If you haven’t received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I want to invite you to receive the best Christmas gift you’ll ever receive. A Savior has been born to you. He will take away your sins, forgive you and give you the hope of eternal life in heaven.
If you have already made Jesus your Lord and Savior, but you need a church home, I want to invite you to make Lebanon your church home.