Minister: At this time, we would like to introduce a special ritual. The holidays can be an especially poignant time of year. Alongside the joy in these present moments, we may recall fond memories of past celebrations with our loved ones.
Pastoral Care Associate: As we carry on traditions, we may especially miss any dear ones we have lost to death, distance or dementia. Or we may be more sharply aware of an estrangement. Love, joy, and wonder may bubble up unbidden this season, but so too may sorrow, loneliness or regret.
Minister: You are invited to weave a ribbon through the wreath here at the front of the sanctuary, in memory of those who are no longer with you this Christmas, or to mark any other loss or separation that you carry in your heart.
Pastoral Care Associate: You may come forward to do so now, and we can help you if needed. Or if you prefer, you may also tie on a ribbon after the service.
[Pianist plays gentle music as people come forward. Minister and PC or Worship Associate stand by wreath, ready to help anyone who needs a hand weaving a ribbon in and tying it. As people approach, each puts on a ribbon to illustrate how to do it simply and efficiently. Pianist vamps until all who come forward have had unhurried time to add a ribbon. Then the music fades / finishes and speakers return to the pulpit.]
Minister: As we look upon the holiday wreath now, we see it adorned with many ribbons. Let us recognize the losses and sorrows that these ribbons represent. And let us see that no one here need be alone with such pain. We can weave each other back into community and connection, just as we have woven our separate ribbons to make something beautiful.
Pastoral Care Associate: Please know that your Pastoral Care Team remains available, at this time of year as always. We can offer you support privately if you are experiencing loss or sorrow this holiday season. Members of our team are ready with listening ears and can speak with you by phone or in person. Please, look around and know that there are many people here who care about you and would want you to reach out to them.
Minister: We hold the joy and sorrow, the celebration and loss, together in community.
[If a prayer follows this element of the service, it can also acknowledge the losses represented by the ribbons]