13 December 2022
People who feel disconnected as Christmas celebrations peak may find solace at a special Hamlyn Heights parish service.
St Alban’s Hamlyn Heights will hold a “Service of Hope” next Sunday for those who are grieving, lonely and in pain as the broader community celebrates.
Vicar the Reverend Jon Taylor said although there were similarities to what might be held on All Souls’ Day, he’d decided to hold the gathering close to Christmas largely because of the intensity of the focus on family at Christmas time.
That could escalate feelings of invisibility and loneliness for those who didn’t have that, so the church wanted to help ease those feelings, Mr Taylor said.
He said the service aimed to be a space where people could bring or acknowledge their loss, whether from the recent or long-ago death of a loved one, or because of broken relationships.
The focus was also on those who might be experiencing feelings of insecurity because of unemployment, who were down because of ill health, anxious about spending Christmas on their own, or struggling for other reasons, Mr Taylor said.
A school chaplain in the Diocese of Gippsland before he became vicar at St Alban’s in 2016, the idea came from a similar initiative Mr Taylor had run for families in Gippsland.
“There were some pretty tragic things that happened in the school community, and I had heard about a thing called “Blue Christmas”, so I ran that, and it met a need. It really seemed to help them,” Mr Taylor said.
The short service will comprise prayers, candle lighting, Scripture readings, reflection, carols, as well as music from a cellist. Afterwards there will be a chance for people to share conversation over a cup of tea.
“There’s space for them to interact with God, to allow the spirit to work in that space. When people are given that opportunity there can be lots of emotion and feelings which can be helpful,” Mr Taylor said.
He said a number of church members had shown considerable interest in attending although he wasn’t certain how many people would come because St Alban’s was not in a position to advertise.
But Mr Taylor said it wouldn’t really matter whether just one person came to the service, because it wasn’t about numbers.
“I think we need to keep working hard at building those bridges into the community, so we just get to know those people, anyway,” he said.
The service will be held from 4:00pm on 18 December. To find out more, go to stalbansanglican.org.au/home
If you need support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.