First Posted: 12/22/2014
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Except, when it isn’t. Although the hustle and bustle of the holiday, buying of presents, decorating of trees and preparing of holiday treats make it seem as if the whole world shares in the joy that defines the season, those who have experienced grief or loss often feel displaced amid the joy of others.
The Trucksville United Methodist Church Holiday Remembrance Service provided a safe haven for those gathered on Dec. 21 to focus on the comfort and encouragement of faith during life challenges.
Reverend Marian Hartman, District Superintendent of the Scranton Wilkes-Barre District of the United Methodist Church, said media often inaccurately depicts the essence of the holidays.
“Norman Rockwell paintings, Budweiser commercials, Hallmark specials and even the Waltons often make people believe that others are experiencing a perfect holiday,” said Hartman, “when the real celebration is of Jesus coming to earth because of His love for us.”
Hartman said 10 years ago her own spirit was challenged when her son died in a car accident. She said time in prayer helped her to understand the real meaning of Christmas.
“When we place Nativity Sets under our Christmas trees, they have been sanitized by our expectations,” she said, “There were animals that lived there and let’s face it, it smelled bad.
“And the shepherds? They were rejected by others in the community and yet the angels came to them because they were willing to believe and receive Christ,” she added. “This is the real meaning of Christmas.”
Reverend Judy Walker, pastor of Shavertown United Methodist Church, offered a prayer requesting sorrow be replaced by grace, confusion by peace and fear by joy.
“In this season of miracles,” said Walker, “we are truly believing for one.”
Walker, who facilitates a grief share program at her home church open to all, said those struggling with grief often draw strength from one another. She said the event provided an opportunity to benefit from the support of others in addition to gaining a deeper understanding of faith.
Pastor Ian Hastings led the congregation in the lighting of candles with each one having special significance, providing a remembrance of loved ones lost and the gifts of faith and hope that strengthen those who remain.
Attendees were also comforted by carefully chosen musical selections that included “Hymn of Promise” reminding listeners that “in the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be.”
“What Child is This?” was played as special music on the violin, providing an atmosphere of prayer and meditation.
Scripture references included Psalm 34:18, reminding attendees that God “rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Pastor Dick Williams said although Sunday, Dec. 21 (the Winter Solstice) was the year’s longest night and shortest day, it is always followed by days that progressively provide more light.
“It is a message of hope that we have presented today,” said Williams. “Tomorrow will be a brighter day.”