Blue Christmas aims to provide comfort and hope

Date Published: 
Dec. 22, 2017

Coastal Point • File Photo: The Blue Christmas service at Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church has traditionally provided comfort and spiritual guidance for people who need a little of both during the holiday season.Coastal Point • File Photo: The Blue Christmas service at Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church has traditionally provided comfort and spiritual guidance for people who need a little of both during the holiday season.While Christmas is a joyous time for many, it can also be a time of sadness for some — highlighting loss, loneliness and grief.

With their annual Blue Christmas service, Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church hopes to support those who may not be in the Christmas spirit. This year’s service will be held on Saturday, Dec. 23 — the eve of Christmas Eve — beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Retired pastor Kay Lanasa, who leads Mariner’s Healing Prayer Ministry, brought the unique service to Ocean View a dozen years ago from her former parish in Virginia.

“It’s for the lost, lonely, and grieving and overwhelmed. It’s for people who are not happy or joyful at Christmas — this is a place they can come for a service. They don’t have to do anything; they can just sit.”

While music is played and scripture read during the service, Lanasa said it is not a typical Christmas service that people may attend on Christmas Eve.

“We don’t sing Christmas carols. The music is very light, the church is dimly lit. People who come don’t have to do anything but sit.

“Those who need it, come,” she said, noting that this year’s focus is on comfort and hope. “Mainly because of all the stuff that is going on this year, I felt people needed to feel comforted and safe. We’re dealing with so many things. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the world’s issues, this is a place to come and sit and be in prayer.”

Mariner’s prayer ministers will be in attendance at the service. Those who wish to have company, either in silence or in prayer, may find support in the ministers.

“We provide a place to pray for each person if they want prayer. It’s to provide that comfort,” she added.

In previous years, the Blue Christmas service focused on military families and on caregivers — themes that Lanasa said were “provided by God.”

Lanasa said it is important during the busy holiday season to remember that not everyone is happy, but that some may be in need of additional support.

“People are dealing with a lot of stuff. That’s just the way the world is today. Some people don’t get to go home, wherever home is,” she said. “A lot of people who live here are retired, and a lot of people don’t go anywhere for Christmas, so you have a whole group that is elderly and don’t leave.”

She said the service, which is open to all — regardless of their faith — does help those in need.

“We had a couple who came about eight years ago,” shared Lanasa. “The two came separately — as a widow and a widower. They did not know each other. They met after the service, out in the hall, built a relationship and eventually got married. Well, last year they came together to remember they had met there… It’s a beautiful story, how we think everyone there is in some kind of need, but they were there because they were brought together there… You never know.

“There was one person who came, didn’t like the service, left, got down to the corner and felt God was saying, ‘Go back to the service.’ He did, and he was very blessed.”

Lanasa said the service may vary in attendance from year to year, but the important thing is that it is offered to those in need, and that, hopefully, those in need will find Mariner’s.

“There are lots of stories, and they’re never the same. God does what God is going to do. All the team has to do is show up and be open to wherever the spirit is leading them.”

Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church is located at 81 Central Avenue, just off Route 26, in Ocean View. For more information regarding the service, call (302) 539-9510.