Sudbury

Willowgrove United Church in the Soo offers Blue Christmas service

Judy Sears and Nancy Juby have organized a special Blue Christmas service at Willowgrove United Church in Sault Ste. Marie for all those who are experiencing loss or grief at Christmas. It will be held Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at the church.

Blue Christmas service offers sensitive, sacred atmosphere for reflection

Nancy Juby is one of the organizers of a special Blue Christmas service to be held Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at Willowgrove United Church in Sault Ste. Marie.

There are members of Willowgrove United Church in Sault Ste. Marie who know what it's like to experience pain or loss over the holidays when so many others are experiencing excitement and joy.

That's why Judy Sears and Nancy Juby have organized a special Blue Christmas service to be held Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at the church.

It is open to people of all denominations who may be dealing with loss — the loss of a loved one or the loss of a job. They might be going through a marital crisis or living with a serious disease.

"We wanted to create a very sensitive, sacred atmosphere for these people to come and worship and reflect, and hopefully we create this sacred place for them to heal and have hope for a brighter future," said Juby.

Juby knows how hard it can be. Last year she lost her 31-year-old daughter to breast cancer.

 "We've had a lot of cancer in our family," said Juby. "And Willowgrove has been amazing support. I can't even explain how they reach out to family and friends.  I think that Willowgrove United Church in our little corner of the world can provide that for a lot of people," she said.

Judy Sears, a licensed lay worship leader, will facilitate the Blue Christmas service at Willowgrove United Church. (Submitted by Nancy Juby)

Juby says it can be difficult to put on a shiny face. "Sometimes the happiest people aren't the happiest people," she said. "I just find that going to church and sitting in quiet and listening to music helps . . .  and takes me out of my pity pot. And I just feel it uplifting," she said.  

Judy Sears is a licensed lay worship leader and her role is to facilitate the service from beginning to end. 

"It will be conducted in the same manner as the United Church of Canada service but in a very serene and quiet and welcoming and comforting atmosphere," said Sears.

"There's going to be an aspect of the service where we light candles in honour of the person we may be grieving having lost or in honour of what we are offering up to God to give to Him our trouble," said Sears.

Sears says what troubles her at Christmas is being caught up in all the rush and the hype over shopping and monetary and materialistic things. "So often Christ is lost and not involved in Christmas. And that's what I struggle with," she said.

Juby has a message for those who are going through tough times at Christmas.

"You have the love of the people that are with you, pushing you through these difficult times," she said. " And I'm hoping that our beautiful service with music and ministry is going to help a lot of people in our community."

If you are experiencing loss or pain over the holidays, you are not alone. There is a group in Sault Ste. Marie who is preparing a service for those in need. Judy Sears will be leading the service and Nancy Juby is one of the members who helped organize the event, which takes place on Dec. 5 at Willowgrove United Church. 7:56

With files from Jan Lakes

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