A Pennsylvania congregation and a local funeral home came together to hold a “Blue Christmas” service for those who are suffering or coping with the loss of a loved one this holiday season.
First Presbyterian Church of Lancaster and DeBord Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory came together to hold the Blue Christmas service on Sunday afternoon.
Laura Sambrick, director of pastoral care at First Presbyterian, told The Christian Post that her church and the funeral home had previously held separate Blue Christmas services.
“First Presbyterian has provided a Blue Christmas service for over 10 years, Sambrick said. "DeBord Snyder Funeral Home was providing a similar service at their location right across the street. Last year they outgrew their space and held their service in our building.
“It only made sense to combine our services since there is already a close working relationship between the funeral home and the church. By combining efforts on Blue Christmas we hoped to reach more people, extending our circle of care.”
Sambrick noted that the funeral home staff were involved “in all aspects of the service” and brought a “gift of hospitality” especially in “how to provide comfort in a time of crisis.”
“Many attendees received a personal invite [to the Blue Christmas] from DeBord Snyder Funeral Home, having used their service over the past year following the death of a loved one,” Sambrick added.
“DeBord Snyder read the names of those who died that year and presented the family with a personalized Christmas ornament.”
Around 70 people attended the event despite freezing rain falling earlier that day. According to Sambrick, few people came alone, but rather showed up with loved ones.
For the service, First Presbyterian included a candle-lit setting with music, readings from the Bible, and poetry. Attendees were encouraged to bring a memento representing their grief.
The service concluded with attendees singing “Silent Night” with candles, followed by a reception with food and additional fellowship for those dealing with loss.
Sambrick told CP that they wanted attendees to not only “acknowledge loss” but also “embrace hope,” noting that they “are not alone in their grief.”
“Our hope is that attendees found a safe place to be present with their pain and loss. That surrounded by friends and God’s presence, they know that they are not alone. There are better days ahead,” she explained.
“That people would discover that they are not alone in their discomfort and discover that there are other people who also struggle with Christmas. It is hard to admit the holidays are not ‘joyous.’ Having a place to name those emotions with others is a blessing to many.”
Jeremy DeBord, co-owner of DeBord-Snyder, told CP that his funeral home partnered with the church “to find synergies and create a program that is even more beneficial to the community.”
“We have been hosting a ‘Community Remembrance Gathering’ for the past few years and decided we could reach a broader community base and offer this service of peace and comfort to more individuals by partnering with our neighbor and friends, First Presbyterian Church,” DeBord said.
The funeral home and First Presbyterian have a history of collaboration with each other, noted DeBord, having worked together coordinating funerals, memorial services, and educational seminars on funeral-related topics.
“We value our friendships with our community churches and are honored to serve families,” he added. “This, however, is the first year that we have partnered with a church for a Blue Christmas or any type of service of remembrance.
"We know how difficult it can be going into the holidays after losing someone that you love. We hope that this service provides a time of peace and comfort to those who are grieving."