Central UMC hosts new holiday service | News

The holidays aren’t the happiest time of year for some because to tragic life events, which is why Central United Methodist Church in Lenoir City hosted a service for those who would benefit from a time of quiet reflection.

The church offered a Blue Christmas service virtually at 3 p.m. Sunday. Plans were initially to host in person, but a recent bout of coronavirus cases within the congregation forced the church to close its doors to the public and move to a wholly virtual format through the end of the year, the Rev. Scott Layer, church pastor, said.

The service is new to the church.

“For the past 10 years, many churches have been offering a Blue Christmas service primarily for people who find it difficult around the holidays, obviously people who have lost loved ones at Thanksgiving or around Christmas, a lot of emptiness,” Layer said. “We have not done a Blue Christmas service here at Central before, but we had actually planned this a year ago. Based on some of the members of our congregation, we thought this would be helpful for them.

“We didn’t plan on a pandemic to add a new flavor to it, so we felt like this was a really appropriate year to offer this as an opportunity for people to just take what they’re actually feeling to God and have a special service beyond just a traditional Christmas Eve kind of service,” he added.

The service was streamed on Facebook, the church’s website and YouTube and is still available for viewing.

The 40-minute service was different from a typical Sunday service in that it was mostly intended as a time of reflection, “a little bit more meditative,” Layer said.

“Often in worship, when you’re worshipping God, for the most part, a lot of times, it’s emotionally up,” he said. “There’ll be more Scripture that we do. There’ll be candle lighting as a part of it, and then we have a story that’s going to be told to help people be more in touch with the emotions that they’re feeling, and there’ll be an opportunity to kind of bring the things that’s making them blue or sad to kind of bring them to God as a response to the service.”

For the Rev. Audrey Madigan, associate pastor, the service is important because it includes those in worship who don’t celebrate the holidays in the same “joyful and exciting” manner as others.

“For some people, happiness is often forced for the sake of others because the pain and grief they carry with them,” Madigan said. “They may be facing the holiday experiencing or remembering the death of a loved one, coping with the loss of a job, home, business, marriage or a host of other events that they find heartbreaking. A Blue Christmas service gives people a time to reflect, acknowledge what they are experiencing, be comforted and offered hope through the love of God.”

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