SALEM - For some, Christmas isn't the jolly "Joy to the World" kind of holiday it is for others, so an area church plans to minister to those people dealing with sadness by hosting a Blue Christmas Service.
The service will begin at 7 p.m. Sunday at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, featuring periods of quiet reflection, singing of hymns, reciting of scripture and lots of prayer.
"This service acknowledges loss and loneliness and brokenness," Holy Trinity Pastor Connie Sassanella said.
Pastor Connie Sassanella of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Salem poses next to the blue-themed Christmas tree in the church sanctuary in preparation for the Blue Christmas Service scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday, aimed at acknowledging the losses some people are coping with during the holiday season. The service is open to anyone needing some quiet, reflective time with others. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
This will be the second year the church has hosted a Blue Christmas Service. Sassanella said she heard about other communities doing the service and decided to have one here last year with Salem's Emmanuel Lutheran Church and St. Paul Catholic Church participating.
This year the church will fly solo, with participation by Pastor Aimee Raymond of St. John's Lutheran Church in Petersburg and Emmanuel Lutheran Church in New Springfield and Pastor Bill Wilkins, retired pastor of Emmanual Lutheran Church in Salem and camp manager for Camp Frederick.
"The idea is that for so many people, Christmas is not the cheerful, joyous, child-oriented Christmas that it once was, and for many, it is a sad and depressing time," she said.
Four blue candles will be lit to represent the losses people may have experienced. Sassanella explained that losses can include not only the death of a loved one, but a job loss, family problems, concerns over children, health issues or community issues, including some of the recent tragedies affecting the community.
According to the program, one candle will be lit to represent grief, with a reader noting,"We own the pain of losing loved ones, of dreams that go unfulfilled, of hopes that evaporate in despair."
Another will be lit for courage, "to confront our sorrow, to comfort each other, to share our feelings honestly and openly with each other, and to dare to hope in the midst of pain."
The third candle will represent memories, "for the times we laughed together, cried together, were angry at each other or overjoyed with each other."
The final candle will be lit for love, "the love we have given, and the love we have received. The love that has gone unacknowledged and unfelt, and the love that has been shared in times of joy and sorrow."
Throughout the service, people will be invited to come up and light candles in respect of a loss in their life or in memory of a loved one. Readings will be relevant to the theme and music will be provided by Doug Falk, Butch Hallewell and Sue Deutschlander, with prelude music 15 minutes before the service and music throughout the service.
If weather permits, blue and white luminaries will be lit outside. Refreshments will be served after the service.
"In the busyness of our lives in preparation for Christmas, we need a quiet pause to acknowledge the pain and loss in our lives and in our community and the hope of Christ that is our only hope," Sassanella said.
The public is welcome to attend. The offering will be donated to the Banquet in Salem.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org