By LOIS KINDLE
There are those among us who find little joy in the holiday season and all the festivities surrounding it. They’re dealing with loss and grieving for what once was, while others are making merry.
For the former, the United Methodist Church of Sun City Center will host its annual Blue Christmas service, Sunday, Dec. 3, at 6:30 p.m. in its sanctuary at 1971 Haverford Ave. Anyone dealing with the death of a loved one, facing life after divorce or separation, coping with the loss of a job or any other painful situation is invited to attend. The service is open to the entire South Shore community.
“It’s important we meet the needs of people suffering during the holiday season and provide them a place to gather in a safe, sacred space, where they’re accepted, loved and given encouraging words of hope,” said Victoria Sorensen, the United Methodist Church of Sun City Center’s director of ministry. “Everyone is welcome. If you know someone in need of healing, please feel free to invite them to join us.”
This year’s Blue Christmas service will be led by The Rev. Josh Landen, who has overseen the church’s GriefShare ministry for the past 18 months. The doors will open around 6:10 p.m.
This Christian-based, nondenominational service includes the [optional] lighting of candles as an act of remembrance of someone or something attendees are grieving.
“The overall goal is to create a sacred space for people to acknowledge the grief in their lives and hand it over to God,” Landen said. “We ultimately have the hope in Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.”
“The holidays are a very difficult time of year for so many people in our community who are dealing with loss, especially those who are alone,” said Debbie Caneen, director of admissions for Sun Towers. Blue Christmas is special because it gives grieving hearts a place to gather, heal and remember.”
Last year’s Blue Christmas service served 85 people.
For more information, call Sorensen at 813-634-2539, Ext. 1010.
More about the GriefShare ministry
Each year, Associate Pastor Landen facilitates two 13-week grief support groups, which normally include 10 people. Members can join sessions at any point during the 13 weeks.
Through this group, they learn about the grieving process, what to expect and what’s “normal.” They also receive tips on coping with their grief and solid support every step of the way.
Registration for the next group starts Jan. 3, 2024. Call the church office at 813-634-2539 or drop by during office hours to sign up.
There’s a requested donation of $20 to cover the cost of the book, but a waiver is available for anyone with a financial barrier.
For more information on GriefShare, visit www.griefshare.org/.