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Blue Christmas provides time to remember those who have died

December 07, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO

A grandmother was remembered for her strength. Murder and car crash victims were mourned as friends and family remembered the good times before senseless acts ended their short lives.

Loss was on the minds of the 50 people gathered at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Boonsboro Sunday during the first "Blue Christmas" service at the church on South Main Street.

Keedysville resident Stuart Brown said his family lost a loved one this year, and said the pain never really goes away. It's important, especially at Christmas, to know there is support available, he said.

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"That loss is more prominent during the holidays," Brown said.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church hosted Sunday's service, which also was organized by St. Peter's Evangelical Church in Keedysville and St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Beaver Creek.

The Rev. Joe Donovan of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran said Blue Christmas is also known as "longest night" and is typically celebrated Jan. 21. He said the churches decided to collaborate and conduct the service more than a month early to offer support during what can be a difficult season.

"Christmas is a hard time for people who have loss in their life," he said.

Some remember a lost family member or friend, while for others, jobs or good health are lost.

The Rev. David Kaplan said that with recent job losses locally and the recent economic uncertainty, this Christmas might be particularly hard for some.

Donovan said Sunday that he hopes to make the Blue Christmas service an annual tradition.

Those who attended the service were invited to come forward and light a candle in memory of someone or something they lost.

"The holiday season can bring mixed emotions," said the Rev. Darrell Layman. "They're not feeling very festive. We're offering an opportunity to feel supported."

Patty Semler of Hagerstown and her sister, Debbie Shifler of Falling Waters, W.Va., said they attended Sunday's service to remember their grandmother, Edith Semler, who died nearly 25 years ago.

"It never leaves," Shifler said. "They're always there when you lost a loved one around the holidays."

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