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Churches offer hope to people who are have a very un-merry Christmas

ELKHART, Ind. – Grief, loneliness, and despair are just a few of the reasons why some think the holiday season is anything but the most wonderful time of the year.

To offer solace to these people, many area churches are holding Longest Night services this week.

The inspirational services are designed to allow people to grieve openly and acknowledge their pain in front of God.

Pastor Steve Braden of the First Presbyterian Church in Elkhart on Beardsley Avenue says, it is a step toward healing. “We recognize a need in this season for people to be able to express their own sorrow and grief,” said Braden.

Braden’s church has been holding a Longest Night service for 20 years now. He says, the congregation at the service is never enormous, but it is always changing.

That’s a good thing, according to Braden. He says, it means people are coming to grips with their pain and growing past it.

It also means they are once again able to celebrate without feeling guilty, according to Braden.

Guilt, loss, and loneliness are difficult to deal with when it seems like everyone around you is happy despite your pain.

The services message tends to emphasize what Christians view is the true meaning of Christmas. “It’s really about finding the hope that comes to us in Christ,” said Braden.

Churches all over Michiana are holding Longest Night, or Blue Christmas, services in the days leading up to Christmas.

Wednesday night, Trinity United Methodist Church in Elkhart will hold their service.

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