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Published: Friday, 12/21/2012

Services offered to lift blues out of Christmas

BY TK BARGER
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR

The “Blue Christmas” holiday song made popular by Elvis Presley relays through music that the “decorations of red on a green Christmas tree, won’t be the same, dear, if you’re not here with me.”

Several Toledo-area churches have recognized that those lyrics become reality sometimes: Loved ones have been lost, and the season will never be the same.

So they hold “Blue Christmas,” or “Longest Night,” services to “make space for people who might be grieving when we celebrate the birth of Jesus,” said the Rev. Martin Billmeier of St. Lucas Lutheran Church.

Grace Lutheran Church, 4441 Monroe St., will have a Blue Christmas service in its chapel today at 7 p.m. Nancy Lockard, a member of the congregation who lives in Toledo, designed Grace’s ceremony to be “quiet and meditative,” she said.

“The feeling is brought on more with candles and soft music, speaking of hope and comfort and light, probably in the midst of darkness that people might feel,” she said.

“It’s raising up Jesus coming as our savior and sharing with people that they are not alone, that God is especially with those who are downcast and brokenhearted. Through others he reaches out to bring comfort and solace to people who are grieving.”

St. Lucas, 745 Walbridge Ave., will mix Blue Christmas with jazz on Christmas Eve, at 7 p.m. Monday, Pastor Billmeier said.

“What we’re doing is keeping in mind the folks who have lost a loved one, especially in the last year. For folks like that, the holidays can be really tough, especially the first time you go through the holiday,” he said.

“There’s a candle-lighting rite that we do where folks can light a candle in memory, but they can also light a candle against some other darkness in their life, such as if they’re unemployed or anything they might be troubled with going through the holidays.”

Music for St. Lucas’ service will be by keyboardist and vocalist Emmitt Williams, a local jazz artist, and saxophone player John Bowes of Chicago.

Pastor Billmeier spoke about Blue Christmas recognizing national tragedies, such as the mass killing of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., a week ago.

“I’m hearing a lot from folks where it really has touched them, a lot of tearful folks, even, so I think we can light a candle of hope against that kind of darkness in the world too, which is really what Christmas is all about,” he said.

Contact TK Barger at: tkbarger@theblade.com or 419-724-6278.



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