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Service reaches out to those who are feeling blue

December 09, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

CAVETOWN - Blue Christmas. Elvis sang about it and many people feel it, but the pastor of a local church decided to do something about it Sunday afternoon.

About 10 people attended the first-ever Blue Christmas service, said Carol Hallman, pastor of Christ Reformed United Church of Christ on Cavetown Church Road.

"I was pleased at the response," Hallman said.

Hallman said she thought of the idea because she hears so often during the holidays that people are feeling sad because of the loss of loved ones or a job, or relatives are far away and cannot come home.

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There were Bible readings chosen to soothe and inspire. And there were familiar hymns that felt comfortable and comforting.

Ross and Kate Cline came to celebrate their years together, give thanks for Ross' recovery from surgery in March and remember his mother, who died more than a half-century ago.

"No matter how long ago it was, the holidays always make us think of those who aren't with us anymore," said Ross Cline, 77.

Active members of the congregation, the Clines found joy in the service Sunday afternoon. They also recalled their wedding day in that very church - 54 years ago.

Dick and Peggy Winters were also in attendance, celebrating their years of closeness with each other and with the church. As former pastor of Cavetown, Dick Winters said he is always happy when he is in the church.

But for many, happiness is sometimes elusive during the holidays.

Even Hallman said she has personal experience with feelings of loss at Christmastime.

"I lost a brother and every Christmas, my parents feel that loss most painfully," she said.

Building on her own experiences, Hallman crafted the service to be brief, informal and emphasizing community.

Hallman and congregation member Lizz Huntzberry read several Bible passages in which God spoke to ordinary people who were having difficulties getting through trying times.

Two Howard Thurman poems were also read, which Hallman said spoke to her about triumphing over loss and reflecting on pain.

Then in turn, each person attending rose and lighted a small, blue candle in honor of those loved ones no longer present. A silent prayer followed.

"We offer our pain to God and remember ourselves in the hugs of friends who support us," Hallman said. "And we remember our faith and the gift of hope that Christmas gives us."

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