Christmas “Blue” for some

Service caters to those who aren’t merry

By Jaime Thomas

Though it’s touted as the most wonderful time of the year, for some Christmas season is filled with sadness rather than joy.

To empathize with and support those going through difficult times, some churches hold a “Blue Christmas” or longest night service.

At the West Hebron United Presbyterian Church, Pastor Laura Mitchell will hold the event for the second year in a row.

“Because Christmas is all about being merry and bright and joy-filled, but whether we’ve had a death in the family, depression or a loss of job or relationship, every year people are grieving while the rest of the world is celebrating,” she explained.

During the service, which lasts no more than 45 minutes, those in attendance gather, listen to music and read scripture. There’s also a laying on of hands, which Mitchell describes as a way of praying.

“We come together and have a quiet time of reflection and hearing. We try to give folks a safe place to grieve, cry and receive prayer,” she said. Those who are interested will also have the option to light a candle either in memory of someone or as a symbol of Christ.

Additionally, Mitchell said participants can write down prayer requests, which she’ll use to pray for them and then burn.

Last year’s turnout was small, but there was a variety of men and women ranging in age from 20s to 90s.

“Most people could say there’s sometime in the season when they’re not feeling joy,” Mitchell said, adding that the service is open to any person of any denomination. And the service can benefit more than those going through a dark period.

“Even if you’re not particularly grieving, and you’re just tired of all the craziness. It’s such a breath of fresh air,” Mitchell said. “It’s quiet and reflective, which is so in contrast with what’s going on outside.”

Mitchell, who is a second-career pastor, said she thinks the concept of Blue Christmas is relatively new, but said healing services have been around as long as the church.

Her service will be held on Monday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. at the church.

The Argyle United Methodist Church will also hold a Blue Christmas service on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m.

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