Tonight: Shake off those Christmas blues at The Waverly Presbyterian Church

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They say it's the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, they sing it.

But for some people, it's a struggle. Today, tomorrow and many other days are so ... hard.

If you are among those in need of support -- or perhaps you just want to experience something special -- the Waverly Presbyterian Church in Regent Square is hosting a Blue Christmas Service tonight.

"Blue Christmas is sort of an alternative to the big celebration of Christmas Eve," said the Rev. Beckie Hickok, who will be conducting the service. "It's a quieter service, a more contemplative service. It's sometimes called the Longest Night Service.

"I've been doing it for about 20 years at various churches I've been with. It's been around for longer than that, and various other churches do it as well. It's a service about healing, realizing that pretty much everybody comes to Christmas broken in some way. Dealing with losses, dealing with changes, dealing with hard things And so this is a service that allows that to happen, as well as to offer hope because Christmas comes as the light that overcomes the darkness."

Everyone wants to have a holly, jolly Christmas. Even if they hate that particular song.

Thankfully, one of the special aspects of the Blue Christmas service is the music, which makes up most of the 45-minute session.

"There's no singing," the Rev. Hickok said. "This is all piano and bells. There are some places where the congregation participates in the litany, but this is really about being able to sit back and listen and absorb.

"There are some traditional Christmas carols and some classical pieces as well. Sallie Wormer, the director of music for our ministry, plays the piano, and Sue Garton plays the entire set of bells and hand chimes. She's amazing, and she's even more amazing when you realize she is legally blind."

The Rev. Hickok has been at Waverly for five years, and she said the members of the congregation -- and many others -- appreciate the Blue Christmas.

"It's not a long service," she said. "And it's a quieter service. There's a short meditation and an opportunity to have communion and an opportunity to come and light a candle in memory or observance of whatever it is that you happen to be dealing with.

"We have people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, the loss of their health, the loss of a job. Any number of reasons. And some people just come because it is a quiet space in the midst of a very hectic time and they just come to get renewed. Time to think and meditate about what the real Christmas message is.

"I think it's particularly important this year as all of us are still reeling from and struggling with what happened in Newtown. But this is really for the people who are there, and we provide a message of hope.

"We actually have some non-Christians who come because the music is stunning, the quiet places are time to reflect. But I will say that the message is all about Christ coming into a broken world. So, yes, if you can deal with that message, the other elements of the service are beautiful.

"I go to worship services from different traditions, and I am respectful of those traditions and I end up taking something from it. So I think other people can do that as well.

"It's interesting. We don't get a lot of people at this service. But we get a lot of non-Waverly members who come and they call us every year and ask us when this is going to be. They wouldn't miss it. Sometimes people don't feel all 'Joy to the World.'"

The service begins at 7:30 p.m. at the church at 590 S. Braddock Ave., near the corner of Forbes.

mobilehome - neigh_city - music

If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it. Contact Dan Majors at dmajors@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1456.


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