Christmas is a time to get together with family and friends to celebrate the season and enjoy each other’s company. But for those who are missing a loved one or grieving something in life, they may especially feel an unpleasant sting or void during this Christmas season.
Ponoka is offering a Blue Christmas for those who are grieving or have felt a loss in their life.
Organizer and pastor of Ponoka United Church, Beatrix Schirner, says that although the event is put on by the United Church and St. Mary’s Anglican church, it is a non-denominational event and everyone is invited to attend.
“Everyone is welcome,” said Schirner. “Although it is a Christian service, the imagery is accessible to people of all world faiths, or no specific faith of any kind. It is a time to connect with the deep needs in our hearts, to what is often referred to as spirituality. This time of reflection is open to people who would describe themselves as spiritual but not religious, as well as to people of faith. It is definitely not denominational; Christians of any stripe are invited.”
Blue Christmas honours those who have passed away but is also a chance for those who have suffered any kind of loss in life to get together for a time of reflection.
“It will be a quiet, reflective time with an opportunity to light a candle for what you are grieving this Christmas,” said Schirner. “It’s usually a loss of some kind in your life, be it loss of employment, loss of health, loss of a relationship, or the loss of a loved one.”
Blue Christmas has been offered in the town for over 15 years and Schirner believes that it is a much needed event for the community.
“In our culture we wish each other Merry Christmas. The focus is on being happy and cheerful, gathering with family and friends. We tend to think of it as an upbeat festival,” she said. “But we know that the celebration of Christmas is weighted with all kinds of expectations, both external and internal. Any discord in families becomes more acute at this time of year. Losses are felt more keenly. There are many in our community who find it hard to be merry in this season of merriness.”
The service is a chance to experience healing, and self-reflection while realizing the joy of hope.
“We forget that Christmas itself came in the context of negative forces: oppression, fear, poverty, hardship,” said Schirner. “True joy is not the same as being cheerful and merry. True joy comes from acknowledging the hard, aching places in our hearts and in our world, and accepting the gift of hope that comes from God through the babe in the manger.”
By looking at your heart and remembering who or what you have lost could initiate the healing process and bring a calmness to your life.
“One of the hallmarks of dealing with any difficulty in life is facing it squarely. Much grief lies more or less dormant until something stirs it up. Christmas, by definition, is such a time. The Blue Christmas service is a way of carving out time for our sadnesses, naming them to ourselves and giving them time and space in an otherwise hectic season, that emphasizes being merry,” said Schirner. “But so often we are not merry, we are sad and hurting. Giving ourselves the time to sit with this in the presence of God, and feel it, makes it more possible for us to then participate in the celebration of Christmas to the best of our ability. We forget that Christmas itself came in the context of negative forces: oppression, fear, poverty, hardship. True joy is not the same as being cheerful and merry. True joy comes from acknowledging the hard, aching places in our hearts and in our world, and accepting the gift of hope that comes from God through the babe in the manger.”
The service will be held at St. Mary’s Anglican Church at 5120-49 Avenue on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. No reservations are necessary. For more information contact the church at 403-783-4329.