MASSENA — Christmas can be a time of joy for many. But it also can be a time of sadness for others, remembering individuals or events that were once a part of life, but are now changed or gone.
Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ, 39 W. Orvis St., Massena, wants to help people overcome those blues this Christmas season by offering a “Blue Christmas Service” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“It’s for anybody that’s kind of feeling blue and struggling to embrace the joy of the Christmas season,” said the Rev. Judith Van Kennen, church pastor.
She said society has expectations on how individuals are supposed to feel and what activities they should be engaged in during the holiday season.
“The fact is, many people don’t feel like doing those things,” the Rev. Mrs. Van Kennen said.
Individuals might not be cheerful for a multitude of reasons, including the death of a loved one, the first holiday following a recent divorce or loss of a job, living with chronic illness or pain, clinical depression, or battling a disease like cancer.
The service will carry the message of, “It’s okay if that’s where you are right now,” she said. The church will be decorated in a blue, peaceful motif, fitting with the tone of the of the service. It includes blue candles that can be lit by those who attend the service, as well as a chance to join in with others who may be dealing with the same sense of loss.
“It’s okay to sit there and be with God and know that their feelings are not strange or abnormal,” she said.
The service typically draws around 24 people, the Rev. Mrs. Van Kennen said.
“I have a sense we might have a few more this year,” she said. “I’ve run into families who didn’t have memorial services for their loved ones. Now they’re feeling they need a little something. It’s not a total substitute, but it helps get them to a place where they can honor their loved ones.”
The church began holding the “Blue Christmas Service” when it was temporarily operating out of the former Adath Israel synagogue building following a devastating fire at their church in 2007. The service lasts for about an hour.