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Tidings of comfort

Trinity UMC to host Christmas service for the grieving

The Christmas season, which traditionally spans the day after Thanksgiving through early January, is “the most wonderful time of the year,” so goes the 1963 Andy Williams song.

Except it often isn’t — not for those grieving. For these people, Trinity United Methodist Church will hold what Pastor Dan Elmore is calling a “comfort service” at 5 p.m. Dec. 19.

“The assumption is everyone should be merry with glee,” Elmore said. “Anyone who isn’t is often labeled as a Scrooge. When the reality is that the holidays are one of the hardest times of the year.”

Elmore brought the idea of a comfort service to Trinity in 2019 after looking for — and not finding — any other local churches offering a similar service. But it’s been nearly two years since Trinity last held such a service, during which time more than 700,000 Americans and 5 million worldwide have died of COVID-19.

“If we’re honest, we all are grieving the loss of what the world and culture was before COVID-19,” Elmore said. Add to that the death of a close family member — from COVID-19 or other causes — or the loss of other relationships due to divorce or separation and “people are just more mentally and emotionally exhausted than ever.”

The service will include readings, prayers and a sermon focused on “anyone who is grieving for any reason,” Elmore said.

“It’s an opportunity to be real and honest, to say, ‘I’m not feeling the glee, but I’m not a Scrooge either,’” Elmore added. “It’s also an opportunity to build some self-awareness and support those who aren’t feeling the holiday spirit.”

Even for those without grieving family members, or who are grieving themselves, it may simply be a more convenient date and time to worship for those who find themselves extremely busy during the days and hours leading up to Christmas Day, Elmore said.

According to Elmore, the wearing of masks inside the church is strongly encouraged, even for the vaccinated, and required for the unvaccinated, though Trinity won’t be asking to see congregants’ vaccination cards.

“We’ll also be extending an invitation to our January Bible study and sermon series, which is all about building better emotional health,” Elmore said. “We’re very excited about the difference it can make in people’s lives.”