The holidays are a time of joy and celebration for most; but for those who are alone or grieving, the joy of the season can be overwhelming and often intensifies those negative feelings. To help those in need celebrate the holidays without all the joy and cheer of a typical Christmas service, Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church, on the corner of Route 26 and Central Avenue in Ocean View, will be hosting a “Blue Christmas” service. The Rev. Kay Lanasa will be leading the service.
“The Blue Christmas service is something I was first introduced to when I was at a church in Virginia,” said Lanasa. “The service is open to everyone. A Blue Christmas service is for those who are lonely, grieving, or have loss in their life. It’s a quiet service with reflection and personal stories of loss.” The Blue Christmas service will be held at 6:30 p.m.
For the most part, people attending the Blue Christmas will be left in solitude, although Lanasa and her prayer team will be present for those who wish to talk.
“It’s all about the experience, and reflection; not interaction.” Lanasa explained. “There will be music, some of which was written specifically for the service, but no hymns. The church will be dimly lit with candles and will provide a quiet place for people to remember, and grieve. The beauty of worship is that each person receives something different. Although I preach a message, each individual reflects upon that message and interprets it to themselves.”
“There are a lot of lonely and hurting people that need to be acknowledged.” Lanasa continued. “So many times around Christmas, churches bypass those people and that are hurting. Wherever people are, it’s OK. At the end of the service, the church will remain open, and we will have a prayer committee there for people to talk with.”
Much of the service itself is built upon those who attend.
Lanasa said, “Last year we had a man who had lost his wife over the summer. I asked him if he would like to donate the tree for the service, in memory of her, and he got us a 7-foot-tall tree. That tree will be displayed again this year in memory of her. We’ll also be handing out prayer tokens which have been personally knit by one of our church members.”
Blue Christmas is far from the only service Mariner’s offers, however.
“Every Tuesday night, we open the sanctuary and people can come from 5 to 7 and sit in quiet reflection,” said Lanasa. “The prayer room is also open, and I’m there with other prayer people for visitors to speak with.”
For those who are in the spirit of the holidays, Mariner’s also hosts a number of special events to celebrate the season. On Dec. 14, the church will hold a musical presentation “The Spirit of the Season,” directed by Steve Szypulski. A collection of secular music, as well as hymns, will be presented. The presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m.
On Dec. 17 and 18, Mariner’s will present a Living Nativity. As has been done in previous years, a nativity scene will be set up along Route 26 with live people and animals acting out the story of Jesus’ birth. The Nativity will run continuously from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on both evenings.
To ring in the holiday, Mariner’s will also hold their traditional Candlelight Services on Christmas Eve. The Family Candlelight Service will be held at 7 p.m., with a second Candlelight Service held at 11 p.m. Both services will follow the format of a traditional Christmas celebration.
The public is being invited to celebrate the season by attending any of these events, as well as regular church services at 8, 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. Additional information on Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church can be found on their Web site at www.marinersbethel.org.