Faith service offers holiday healing
If you go
What: Blue Christmas service
Where: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 700 N. Wright Road, Janesville.
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4. The service will last about an hour so people can get home for Packers game.
For more information: Call the church at (608) 754-0067.
JANESVILLE Sometimes the holidays get to be a bit much.
The incessant Christmas music on the radio, the continuous holiday-themed television ads, the yards filled with inflatable Santas and other random seasonal decorations—all that perky cheerfulness can get to even the most upbeat souls.
And for people who lost someone close to them, for those who have no family and for those whose families are only marginally functional, Christmas time is misery.
That's why Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Janesville, is holding a special "Blue Christmas" service at 2 p.m. Sunday. The service is open to everyone, but it is designed especially to reach those who are struggling during the holiday season.
The Rev. Steven Ekblad said the idea of a "Blue Christmas" service isn't new, but it's one his congregation saw a need for.
"At Christmas, there's an expectation that you're supposed to be happy," Ekblad said.
That's not always easy.
"Maybe you don't have a family, or your family of origin wasn't that great—there's lots of levels to it," Ekblad said. "It's a time of a lot of emotional churn."
Some people spend days with family. All it takes is one unpredictable drinker, a pair of quarreling siblings or a trio of aunts who all want to give childrearing advice, and instead of a holiday you've got an exercise in containing your misery and/or anger.
"The scripture we'll be using is Isaiah 40, 'Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,'" Ekblad said.
The service will not be a cheerleading session.
"We intentionally start out wherever people are at emotionally," Ekblad said.
The service will stress the theme of comfort and God's love.
People are encouraged to bring a photo or a symbol that represents "a sadness or a loss" in their lives, and there will be a place in the service for people to light candles to mark those losses.
"We want people to know that the manger is as much a part of the Christian faith as the cross," Ekblad said.
Christ's suffering on earth means he understands our suffering, Ekblad said.
"What a comforting message that is," he said.
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