By Tom Holmes
A Blue Christmas/Longest Night service will be held at River Forest United Methodist Church on Saturday, Dec. 21.
The flyer announcing the service reads, "Blue Christmas—or Longest Night—is for persons of any church, or no church, anyone who may have experienced loss. Pastors from the local United Methodist Churches will share a peaceful service of readings, meditation and music. Pastors will be present for anyone seeking personal prayer or a chance to talk."
Fred Lenhoff, who attended last year's Blue Christmas event, appreciated the paradoxical sense he had of solitude in the midst of community in the service which he found healing. "I was able to talk to the pastor at the church [Rev. Ronald Greene, D.Min.] about some personal issues that I had been struggling with," he said. "He prayed with me and gave me hope that all would be well. It was an extremely moving, peaceful, quiet moment in the midst of the crazy holiday season."
That's the kind of experience the Rev. Greene will again try to provide on the day of the winter solstice, which is a kind of symbol for the emotional and spiritual darkness many people grieving the loss of a loved one feel during the holidays. Candles will provide the only light for the simple service. Greene said that last year, when they held the service for the first time, the power went out. Compelled to pray and sing by candlelight, everyone present agreed that the outage was serendipitous, because the candlelight in the darkness proved to be a powerful metaphor of hope for people dealing with loss.
The service will begin at 4:30 pm as the sun is setting. Following worship there will be a time of fellowship with cookies and refreshments. The church is located at 7970 Lake St. For more information call Pastor Ron at 708-771-3668.