Holding Space for One Another at Christmas

Blue Christmas

Vancouver, BC. December 11, 2017. – “Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer. Fun for all that children call. Their favourite time of the year.” So goes the popular holiday song. But sometimes Christmas can be anything but fun.

It’s a season where we naturally call to mind relationships with family. We reflect on all the things we accomplished this past year…or didn’t. We look back and smile at our successes, or cringe with disdain at our failures. For many, Christmas is full of anxiety, dread and loneliness – but we seldom have a safe space or even the permission to admit it.

Naomi looks back on her life this year and it’s been a year full of highs and lows. After years of wrestling with her identity she finally married her loving partner Jenn on Easter Sunday. The two are now stepping into life as wives, and while their relationship is full of love and acceptance – a few of Naomi’s conservative Christian family hasn’t been so keen.

“My dad was really great about it – but while he still says he loves me he can’t really get on board. The same can be said for my brother and sister-in-law. I know they love me – they just can’t accept that ‘my person’ is a woman or that I have a wife.”

Naomi explains that it’s really challenging to have such accepting friends, a loving urban family and yet have a less-than-tolerant blood family: “we all live in different parts of the world which makes working through this even more difficult.”  

And set against the backdrop of all of this family rejection this last year, Naomi’s mother’s quality of life was rapidly deteriorating with Parkinson’s and dementia and Naomi was unable to really connect with her Mum. She later died just a few short weeks ago in November.

“It’s been 12 years that we have seen my mom lose to this disease. Parkinson’s can be all consuming and in a way I felt like I lost my relationship to both my parents. We all processed it in different ways. Life became all about the disease for my parents. You know that the person is there in the physical form but they can’t communicate effectively.  But when my mom was on her deathbed we did have some closure.

And now I feel after she has passed almost closer to her. I don’t know what the ‘other side’ is like but there is something about her being in that place which has shifted things for me. I wonder whether since she has been freed from her physical body if she can now see parts of my life that she couldn’t see or participate in before. This story is helping me process our relationship and my grief.”

Naomi can’t help but reflect on love and loss this year at Christmas. Part of her healing will be attending a special Christmas Service held at Canadian Memorial United Church called “Blue Christmas”.  

Minister Beth Hayward of Canadian Memorial United Church  has been putting on the special service for several years now and it’s gaining in popularity.  She says, “We are finding people really need a safe space to be free to admit grief, sadness, stress, anxiety – all of the human emotions that Christmas can often remind us of. So in our Blue Christmas Service we aim to acknowledge and release our grief and sorrow and begin a new journey toward joy.”

Naomi says, “I will definitely be attending this year. Holding space for each other to just ‘be’ – to be in the tension of life, death, relational tensions and unresolved questions, where love is the blanket that wraps you up in the uncertainty – is so important in the journey of healing. Canadian Memorial facilitates this kind of space really well.”

Blue Christmas takes place December 20th from 7:30 – 8:30pm at Canadian Memorial United Church. There will be a time of music, quiet reflection, and stories. The service is free and open to all.  

 

 

 

 

Event at a Glance

What: Blue Christmas Service
When: December 20th, 2017
Where: Canadian Memorial United Church, 15th and Burrard
Time: 7:30-8:30pm

Cost: Free
Contact: 604-731-3101

Light Up the Season 2017

We invite you to bring light into this season by donating a light to the Canadian Memorial Christmas Tree.



Gifts in honour of someone will receive a card to mail to that person, letting them know you have made a donation. All gifts in honour or memory will include an option to be publicly recognized. Donations are tax-deductible. Online donations can be made at the link here, or in person donations can be made in the CMUC Office.

Lighting Up the Tree & Carol Singing

Whether you are able to make a donation or not, join us on Sunday, December 3rd at 5pm to sing carols, drink hot chocolate, and light up our tree! All are welcome.
Sunday, Dec 3rd, 5pm
CMUC Centre for Peace

 

Room For All: A gospel celebration of love and belonging

Sunday, Nov 26th, 7pm
Canadian Memorial United Church
15th and Burrard, Vancouver

Featuring the Universal Gospel Choir 

Bishop Yvette Flunder

 

Proceeds to Rainbow Refugee

 

 

Dr. Rev. Yvette Flunder has been leading movements for justice and radical inclusion for over 30 years, from the church house to the White House and steps of the Supreme Court. In June 2003 she became Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a multi-denominational coalition of over 100 primarily African American Christian leaders.

A founding member of the African American Interfaith Alliance on AIDS, and a frequent guest in the Obama White House, Bishop Flunder is a much sought-after and prophetic preacher, educator, author, and justice advocate, and a renowned gospel music artist.

Concert proceeds will to go Rainbow Refugeea Vancouver based community group that supports people seeking refugee protection in Canada because of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. Rainbow Refugee also hosts a support group, and engages in public education and awareness efforts. Find out more about their work, and how to support it, at the concert!

The Universal Gospel Choir

Vancouver’s beloved and longest-lived gospel choir, the Universal Gospel Choir (UGC) is a community-based group of singers passionate about raising the roof with their music. Known for their big sound, musical diversity, exuberant sense of fun and standing-room-only concerts, UGC celebrates all genres of music, from old-school gospel to current uplifting pop, from civil rights anthems to traditional songs from all around the world. More than 60 voices strong, the Universal Gospel Choir is an open, justice-oriented group celebrating the best of choral music and committed to lifting and inspiring the human spirit. UGC is directed by Lonnie Delisle.

Canadian Memorial United Church

Canadian Memorial is an inclusive and progressive Christian church in Vancouver, where we worship and practice an open-hearted, open-minded faith that takes Scripture and the message of Jesus seriously, but not literally. Rather than to “hold out” for a peaceful world in an afterlife, our mission as a spiritual community is to actively build a new earth now, one that includes authentic relationships, social and ecological justice for all, and fosters peace through Jesus’s radical love of all humanity.

Canadian Memorial is going through our own Affirming Ministries process, and we are thrilled to have Bishop Flunder as a teacher and visionary in that process. You can learn more about CMUC’s Affirm process here.

Remembrance Service and Open House

A Climate of Peace

Remembrance Service with Guest Preacher Elizabeth May
Sunday, November 5th, 10:30am
Canadian Memorial United Church and Centre for Peace
Elizabeth May is one of Canada’s most respected environmentalists, and has a long history of involvement in peace movements. Trained as a lawyer, May served as Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada for seventeen years. A practicing Anglican, she also studied theology at St Paul University, and has received an honourary Doctorate of Divinity from the Atlantic School of Theology. May is the leader of the Green Party of Canada and a Member of Parliament representing Saanich-Gulf Islands.
All are welcome.

Following Worship Elizabeth will stay for a Q&A, co-hosted by Author and Activist Bill Geimer and local Peace Groups.

Light refreshments provided.
12:00-1:00pm in the Centre for Peace Youth Room

Bill Geimer is the author of Canada: The Case for Staying Out of Other People’s Wars, which he will share more about during the discussion. He is also a peace activist, a veteran of the U.S. 82d Airborne Division, and Professor of Law Emeritus, Washington and Lee University. After resigning his commission in opposition to the war on Vietnam, he represented conscientious objectors and advised peace groups near Ft. Bragg NC, once representing Jane Fonda, Dick Gregory and Donald Sutherland in negotiations with police.

1:00–3:00pm Books of Remembrance Open House

Canadian Memorial United Church invites you to visit its sanctuary and view the unique and historic stained glass windows created as a memorial for peace after WWI. The church also houses the only copies of the Books of Remembrance outside Ottawa. Come view the books and names of family members who gave their lives in the hope of peace.