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CHURCH CORNER: Some need help during the holiday season
Wrapping gifts, decorating the Christmas tree, hanging Christmas lights, baking, going to parties, hiding presents, visits from family and friends and special church services are the activities that most of us celebrate and treasure during this season of Advent. But for some, those who are grieving and lonely, these activities do not generate anticipation. In fact, the approaching holidays are dreaded as there is little energy for all of the usual excitement and hustle bustle.
There are many forms of grief: loss of a loved family members or good friends, the loss of pets, the loss of a job, loss of physical abilities, the brokenness of divorce or the grief of giving up one’s home to move to another city or to an assisted living facility. For these persons, the thought of smiling and pretending joy during Christmas would be painful, if not impossible.
If you find yourself in this situation or you know someone else who is struggling with grief this season, there are some resources to draw upon. One story that I found particularly touching is called the Mustard Seed Christmas. You can find the whole text of this story on the Internet by looking up the www.stephenministries.org. In the parable of the mustard seed, God is able to take even the smallest tiny seed of faith and grow it into a kingdom of hope. For one woman who was grieving the loss of her mother, she found this parable a source of consolation. One morning she went to her spice cupboard and found her mustard seeds. She took one seed, taped it to a piece of paper and placed the paper on the mantle of her fireplace. It was a reminder that there is hope and that with God’s help faith can be germinated and Light comes out of darkness.
In many communities, churches provide special services at Christmastime. These services are meant to be comforting and give people a chance to participate in a service that is quieter and meditative, while still offering the Advent message of hope. From reading the responses of persons who have attended such services, it is encouraging to know that it helped these persons face the season. In fact, the remembrance helped in the healing process. I would encourage any person who is actively grieving this season to take part in a community church service designed just for them. We get over grief by grieving, not by stuffing it away. Blue Christmas services are intended to acknowledge grief and to offer consolation and hope. If you live in Enumclaw, one such service is the Blue Christmas at 3 p.m. Dec. 18 at Calvary Presbyterian Church.
Grief support groups are also very helpful. You can meet with others who share some of the same feelings as you may. You can find support groups by calling your local hospital, local library or Chamber of Commerce. One such support group meets from 1 to 2:30 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays of the month at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw. The group leader is Mel Erickson.
Personally, I find Jesus’ invitation to come to him with our burdens a welcome invitation:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matt. 11: 28-29).
By Cindy Ehlke
Calvary Presbyterian Church