The service is an answer for those who do not feel the joy of Christmastime.
For those who are not joyful at Christmas, All Angels Episcopal Church has an answer to the typically bright and happy service of the season with its fourth annual Blue Christmas service this year.
The Dec. 22 service, which is not unique to All Angels, will start at 7 p.m., when it is fully dark outside. Typically, the service is on the winter solstice, the longest night of the year.
“Blue Christmas is for those that find the season to be very dark,” the Rev. Dave Marshall said. “It’s for those that are doubting their faith, for people who have difficult feelings around painful events, poor health, abuse, death, and even for those who have deep concerns with our nation or world that don’t feel like celebrating Christmas.”
The timing of the service also lines up with when the church remembers St. Thomas the Apostle, also known as Doubting Thomas, which makes it a fitting place for those who might be doubting their faith or have doubts in their lives.
“There’s fellowship in knowing that others are not feeling happy either,” Marshall said.
Blue Christmas will still involve the lighting of individual candles for personal concerns, as well as the season’s four Advent candles with slightly different names and symbolic meanings.
“We don’t get to do this [renaming] often in the church,” Marshall said. “The first candle is lit to remember those whom we have loved and lost. We light this candle to remember those who are not with us today, and some of this is estrangement where there’s been a split in the family and the people are still alive, they’re just not going to be here.”
The second candle will be lit to “redeem the pain of loss,” Marshall said, whether that be loss of faith, relationships, jobs or health. The third will be for those who experience a loss of direction in their lives, and the fourth will be lit as a sign of hope that the Christmas story offers, Marshall said.
“We’re going to have music, a time to reflect and time to meditate,” Marshall said. “[With] traditional Christmas services, there is no time to reflect or read; it’s very in-the-moments and loud and bright. So this is not. It’s some time to really ponder those things. Sometimes [after one attends] a Blue Christmas service, a regular Christmas is brighter because they’ve been able to take the time to ponder before Christmas.”