Rev. Beth Dickerson, interim senior pastor at St. Peter's United Church of Christ in Elmhurst, wants us to be more genuine. She says there are many people wearing "happy masks" who are really living on the edge, struggling to deal with personal hardships.
In a continued effort to help congregants not feel pressured to put on the happy mask, St. Peters will host its third annual Blue Christmas service at 7 p.m. Dec. 21. A simple supper of soup and bread will be offered prior to the service at 6:15 p.m.
The worship service is for people who have lost a loved one, are estranged from family, have been adversely affected by the economy or who are struggling for any number of reasons this Christmas season.
"It will be an opportunity for people to come and worship without having to put on a joyful, happy face," Dickerson says.
Dickerson says they won't be singing "Joy to the World," but the music won't be maudlin either.
"It will be a quiet service, more subdued," she says.
People will be invited to light either the candle of grief, the candle of memory or the candle of love.
"Hopefully people will be comforted and won't feel like they have to hide their grief or sadness," Dickerson says.
People often focus on what they don't have during the holiday season, or what's missing, such as children moving away or that things just aren't the way they used to be, she says. There also are a number of people in her congregation who have lost their jobs, but she advises them to stay thankful and positive.
"Stay in today," Dickerson says. "Open your eyes to what's in front of you, what blessings you do have. We are very blessed in Elmhurst compared to the rest of the world."