‘Blue Christmas’ service planned

FELTON — “The name probably comes from Elvis Presley’s song,” Pastor Sally Stewart of Felton-Viola United Methodist Church jokes. “But I don’t really know that.”

She, along with a host of volunteers, are planning the church’s second Blue Christmas service to help those who are grieving “rest” in the otherwise holly, jolly holiday times.

“Loneliness is epidemic in our society. There are many, many people, a lot of them seniors, living alone. Most of their family has passed and Christmas and other holidays are just days,” she said.

“There’s not a connection that they used to have. Traditions have gone to the way side. They’re not up to putting up the tree and making the eggnog and inviting 50 people over for dinner. They don’t feel comfortable saying, ‘I need help. I need connection. I need to be with somebody.’ So, this service really addresses those feelings.”

Church services such as Felton-Viola United Methodist Church’s Blue Christmas service typically occur on or about the Winter Solstice, she added, or Thursday, Dec. 21. This service will be no different in hopes of reaching people when they may be at their loneliest.

“It could be a recent loss or a long-term loss. They associate it with losing people, but it could be anything: unemployment or underemployment, illness, people coping with cancer. . . All kinds of situations makes the holidays more poignant than holly, jolly. This service addresses that and provides hope. It’s usually lower key and more mellow,” Pastor Stewart continued.

Keeping with the “mellow” theme, attendees won’t sing songs like “Joy to the World” typically found in Christmas services.

“We’re more prone to the ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ kind of hymns. We might sing ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’ or ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel,’ you know, quieter ones,” she added.

Prayers throughout the service will focus not only grief and healing, but also resting in the grief to allow everyone to do so at their own pace.

The silence and quiet the unusual Christmas service provides is helpful to the process as it gives time to reflect on life and death while still being “in the moment,” she explained.

“If you’re in severe emotional pain, being in a crowd that seems to have it all together just makes it seem like your pain is worse, not better. I think in our society, happy has to be loud. But it doesn’t have to be loud. Happy can be quiet and reflective, too,” Pastor Stewart said.

“In our society, we’re very anti silence. Everybody has to have the tv, or radio on all the time. And I think we’ve lost the value of just sitting quietly. When I do silence during regular worship, they do fine for up to 30 seconds. They’re okay up to a minute. But if you let the silence go on for more than a minute, they get squirmy. Sometimes God doesn’t want to talk right away. If we’re constantly talking or doing, there’s no time for that. If we don’t allow ourselves to do that, we lose something valuable.”

Blue Christmas will be held Thursday, Dec. 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Felton-Viola United Methodist Church located at 101 E. Main St. in Felton. For more information, call 302-284-3590.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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