While the holiday season is often one of joy and merriment, not everyone associates Christmas with cheer.
For those who are lost, lonely or grieving during the holidays, Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church will be holding a Blue Christmas service on Sunday, Dec. 23, at 6 p.m.
“When I moved here after I retired, I asked if it would be OK for me to organize one,” said the Rev. Kay Lanasa, who organized similar services in Virginia. “But I wanted to do it on the 23rd of December. Some churches do it a couple of weeks before Christmas, but my belief is that it needs to be on the 23rd, because on the 24th… well, the whole season, there’s a lot of hoopla, and people are happy and families are gathered. But there’s a whole lot of people that aren’t so happy.”
Lanasa said those who wish to feel some comfort are welcome to attend the service, regardless of religious affiliation.
“Everyone is welcome,” she said. “All they have to do is show up. Everything is done for them. There’s no bulletin; they don’t have to sing. There is music, but it’s a very quiet service, no more than maybe 45 minutes long.”
The theme of the service this year is “Pathway to Peace.”
“The scripture in Luke says ‘make the path straight.’ It talks about how the King is coming, and how in those days, they had to make the road smooth and the valleys low so the emperor could get through,” said Lanasa. “In Luke, it’s saying, ‘Prepare ye the way, for the Lord is coming.’”
In previous years, the service has honored caretakers and members of the military.
“We had four different branches of the military light the advent wreath ,and we honored all those families of the military… It’s based in prayer. Anything I do is based in prayer. We have a healing prayer ministry… those folks will be there Sunday night.”
During the service, there will be a performance of “Pool of Tears,” a song written by praise leader Paul Grandell.
“He wrote a song years ago called ‘Pool of Tears,’ and it came out of a study we had done that summer about how everybody sits beside somebody’s pool of tears. And that’s the truth,” said Lanasa. “Everybody has a pool of tears… They sing it every year.”
During the service, there will also be a monologue and readings. Prayer ministers will be on hand to sit with those who want company.
“People will be asked to bring a picture of their loved one or memorabilia. Somebody brought, one year, a handmade pillow their mother had made. We have tables down front where the pictures can be displayed with little candles,” Lanasa explained. “Mariner’s is a thousand-member congregation — we have about maybe 60 or 70 come, and that’s OK.”
Lanasa said the service isn’t meant to draw a crowd, but only to reach those who are in need.
“It’s grown over the years, on those who need it. Sometimes a whole family will come. Other times, somebody will come by themselves and leave in the middle,” she said. “The main thing is that the community sees Mariner’s is doing something and meeting the needs of people who are lost, lonely or grieving.”
Lanasa said she hopes those who need support will join Mariner’s for the service.
“My hope is that they will feel the comfort of God’s presence,” she said. “It’s a beautiful service, and peaceful — very peaceful.”
Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church is located at 81 Central Avenue in Ocean View. For more information about the Blue Christmas program or other programs held by the church, call (302) 539-9610 or visit www.marinersbethel.org.
By Maria Counts