While St. Mary’s Episcopal Church is known for the beauty and pageantry of its traditional holiday services, its clergy recognizes that such celebratory events don’t meet the needs of all parishioners. So, this year, they’ve created two alternate services during the week before Christmas. One is for people seeking quiet amid the holiday bustle and the other for those who dread the holidays because of painful losses or “the ghosts of Christmas past.”
The first -- a Taize service of mediation, music and reflection -- takes place at 7 p.m., Sunday, December 16. Begun in Taize, France, the service employs chants, prayer, silence and scripture readings to lift hearts and souls to God in a prayer that “has neither a beginning nor an end.” Past participants have found the service an island of calm that allows them to leave holiday pressures behind and focus on matters of the spirit. Those of all faiths are invited to attend.
The second – aimed at those for whom Christmas is more painful than pleasurable – was suggested by Assistant Priest Steve Moore, who is a trained therapist and counselor. “We’re bombarded with messages about what a happy season this is, one we ‘should’ celebrate with family and friends,” he points out. “But, for many people, there is no happy family and very little joy; there is only pain, loss and awful memories.” All who find themselves struggling to find their holiday spirit are invited to join in a Tuesday, December 18, service of healing and remembrance. The service begins at 7:30 p.m. and is called simply “The Blue Christmas Liturgy.”
Those who have questions may contact the church office at 707-255-0991.