The holidays are the happiest time of the year for many people, but some who are struggling with loss, financial issues or personal problems can find the season to be challenging. Several local churches will be holding services during the Advent season to help people remember their loved ones and find strength in the Christmas story.
“Amid the hustle of the season, people can feel sad and alone,” said Todd Allen, interim pastor at St. Giles Presbyterian in Raleigh. “Christmas can be a time when sorrows can be overwhelming and joy can feel far off. That’s a reality for a lot of people. Our service responds to that reality.”
Allen held the remembrance service at his previous church in Minnesota and received such positive feedback he wanted to start one at his new church.
The church’s “Blue Christmas” service will include familiar Christmas carols along with scripture lessons. The sermon will also use portions of the Christmas story, including the upheaval in Mary and Joseph’s life, their long journey while Mary was pregnant and struggles with King Herod, to remind people that they are not alone in their struggles.
Worshippers will light candles in remembrance of loved ones during the service.
“Jesus is spoken of as being a light that is coming. Christmas is about light that will give us hope,” Allen said. “Our service is not about wallowing in the sadness, but giving hope and stepping out in God’s love and guidance.”
The Blue Christmas service will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at St. Giles Presbyterian, 5101 Oak Park Road, Raleigh. For more information, visit www.saintgiles.org or call 919-787-4790.
Raleigh Moravian Church is also holding a “Darkness and Light” service with an illuminated prayer walk at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, at the church, 1816 Ridge Road, Raleigh. For more information, call 919-787-4034 or visit www.raleighmoravian.org.
St. Ambrose jazz concert
The Jazz Mass Quartet of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church will perform its 11th annual Advent Evening of Jazz at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the church, 813 Darby St., Raleigh. The free concert features advent hymns and holiday standards. For more information, call 919-833-8055.
Meal for special-needs adults
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will hold its monthly coffeehouse for special-needs adults from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at the church, 7000 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh. A holiday meal with turkey, ham and side dishes will be served and the church’s youth choir will lead Christmas carols. Transportation is available to this free event. For more information, call 919-848-1573 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wakefield UMC breakfast
The youth at Wakefield United Methodist Church will serve pancakes and sausage from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Wake Forest Applebee’s, 11805 Retail Drive, Wake Forest. Tickets are $7 at the door. All proceeds will support the youth group’s annual summer mission trip to help low-income homeowners in the Appalachian Mountains with repairs. For more information, call 919-827-0670.
Longview Baptist cantata
Longview Baptist Church’s adult choir will sing its Christmas cantata, “Noel & Alleluia! Jesus Is Born,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, and 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. The community is also invited to “The Gift,” a drive-thru drama depicting the life of Jesus, from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, through Sunday, Dec. 16. Both events will be at the church, 2308 New Hope Road, Raleigh. For more information, call 919-231-3747 or visit www.longviewbaptist.org.
Pleasant Grove UMC concert
The children’s choirs at Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church will present their special Christmas music at the 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. services Sunday, Dec. 9, at the church, at 4415 Pleasant Grove Church Road, Raleigh. Child care will be provided. For more information, call 919-787-7763.
Hayes Barton Baptist cantata
Hayes Barton Baptist Church’s orchestra and chancel choir will perform “For Us a Child is Born” at the 11 a.m. service on Sunday, Dec. 9, at the church, 1800 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh. For more information, call 919-833-4617 or visit www.hbbc.net.
Soup on Sunday
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church will hold its monthly Soup on Sunday meal at 12:15 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the church, 4801 Six Forks Road, Raleigh. The meal is free, and everyone is welcome. As part of a partnership with The Healing Place of Wake County, church volunteers pick up residents of the men’s and women’s shelters and transport them to the church on the second Sunday of each month for food and fellowship. The December meal will include chili mac, Mexican corn, dinner rolls, dessert, iced tea and lemonade. For more information, call 919-787-0544 or visit www.stmarksraleigh.org.
Ephesus Baptist concert
The sanctuary choir at Ephesus Baptist Church will sing “And Peace on Earth” at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. The church will also hold its 26th annual drive-thru nativity from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, to Sunday, Dec. 16. Both events will be held at the church, 6767 Hillsborough St., Raleigh For more information, call 919-851-1928.
Edenton Street UMC services
The community is invited to the annual Children’s Music and Worship Arts program at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9, in the sanctuary at Edenton Street United Methodist Church, 228 W. Edenton St., Raleigh. The Celtic and Crusader choirs will present a musical titled “Light of the World,” which tells the story of creation, turns to the prophetic words of Isaiah and then recounts the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. The Cherub choir, the Joyful Ringers Handbell choir and the Sacred Dance Ensemble will also perform.
Also at Edenton Street UMC, the chancel, youth and children’s choirs will perform with a professional orchestra in the Festival of Lessons and Carols at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16. The service is modeled after the annual Christmas Eve service at King’s College in Cambridge and includes music and spoken word. For more information, call 919-832-7535 or visit www.esumc.org.
Benson Memorial UMC nativity
Benson Memorial United Methodist Church will hold a live, drive-thru nativity from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the church, 4706 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh. Each car will be greeted by shepherds, who will guide them through the nativity. Attendees are invited to enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and caroling around a fire afterward. For more information, call 919-787-0789 or visit www.bensonmemorial.org.
Soapstone UMC missions
Soapstone is encouraging its congregation and community members to scale back on Christmas gifts to help others this year. The church is collecting donations to raise $10,000 for the Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network’s Day Center Playground Project. Donations can be made online at www.soapstoneumc.org. The church is also providing gifts and stocking stuffers for students at West Millbrook Middle School who are not living in permanent housing through a Giving Tree. Donated items can be dropped off in a bin in the church foyer at 12837 Norwood Road, Raleigh. For more information, call 919-846-2212.
Carols on the Keys
Four concert pianists will perform Carols on the Keys at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Wake Forest Baptist Church, 107 E. South Ave., Wake Forest. The concert will also be performed at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at Christ Baptist Church. The performance features four Baldwin and Steinway grand pianos. Tickets are $10, or $8 for students or seniors, and can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com. For more information, call 919-556-5141.
Unity Church of Raleigh is holding a candlelight service focusing on 12 spiritual powers and abilities in each of us from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at the church, 11101 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh. The service will include music, spiritual readings and candle lighting followed by fellowship and refreshments. Free child care will be provided. For more details, email email@example.com or call 919-870-7364.
Carols from Southwest
Community United Church of Christ will present Carols and Lullabies from the Southwest for Advent at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at the church 814 Dixie Trail, Raleigh. During the concert, the Christ child’s birth will be described through the moods and rhythms of Bethlehem carols using Biscayan, Catalonian, Puerto Rican, Spanish, Andalusian, Castilian, and Mexican texts set to instrumentation. For more information, call 919-787-6422 or visit www.communityucc.org.
Do you have some faith news to share? Send it to correspondent Jennifer Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org.