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Article updated: 12/4/2012 12:21 PM

Blue Christmas Service Set for December 21 at Holy Apostles in Wauconda

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By Marcia Richards Suelzer

If you are struggling with loneliness, anxiety, depression or grief, "Merry Christmas can feel anything but merry. The images of perfect families and lavish presents can be heartbreaking for those struggling with family or financial difficulties. The constant pressure to prepare and participate in holiday gatherings and the unrelenting barrage of good cheer can stress and overwhelm those struggling with physical and mental health issues. Memories of previous Christmas contrast starkly with the lonely, emptiness of those who are facing the holidays after the loss of a loved one.

A Blue Christmas service offers an antidote to the emptiness many feel during the holiday season by providing an alternative to traditional upbeat Holiday Services. On the longest night of the year, we are invited to encounter the one who came to dispel the darkness. Alone and empty, we are invited to encounter "Emmanuel" -- the God who is with us, regardless of our circumstances. Broken and hurting, we are invited to encounter the true meaning of Christmas--restoration and healing for a broken world.

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"In the bustle of the season, it can be easy to forget that the gift of the incarnation means that God became flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, to live a human life and share our human experience," said the Rev. Martha Gillette. "And the life Jesus lived was far from trouble-free. Poverty, misunderstanding, rejection, betrayal, abuse, unjust execution -- God-in-Christ has 'been there and done that.' That's not the message we typically get from our popular culture, but that's really what makes Christmas so powerful."

This year, the Church of the Holy Apostles, located on Rt. 59 in Wauconda, is offering a Blue Christmas/Longest Night service of hope and healing on December 21 at 7:00 pm. This service, "For Those Who Mourn Amidst the Merry" will include music, prayer, scripture readings, mediation, and a celebration of the Lord's Supper. We conclude by lighting candles--candles that shine hope, breaking into and dispelling the darkness of the longest night of the year.

We invite anyone feeling out of step with the season to join us for a time of healing and comfort. Members of any church -- as well as those with no church -- are welcome.

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