NEWBURYPORT — Old South Presbyterian Church will hold a “Blue Christmas” service on Dec. 17 for people who are struggling during the holiday season, a time of year that can be challenging for those mourning a loss, battling illness or depression, or feeling lonely.

The 7 p.m. service at the church, 29 Federal St., will incorporate candlelight, music, quiet reflection, and a message of comfort and hope. Nursery care will be available. 

An elder at Old South Presbyterian, Kara Peters, started the service five years ago after experiencing a particularly difficult Christmas several years earlier.

 “Our culture bombards us with messages that happiness is imperative this time of year, but if you’ve lost a loved one or a job, or are feeling depressed for whatever reason, all the ‘holly jolly’ can be very alienating,” Peters said in a press release.

 For the church’s pastor, the Rev. Sara Singleton, the service is an opportunity to recall the mood of the first Christmas.

“Amidst the bright lights and noise of our modern holiday, it’s easy to forget that the first Christmas took place against a backdrop of Roman tyranny and oppression, poverty and despair,” Singleton said. “A dark and frightened world was given the ultimate gift of hope. We welcome anyone in need of that hope.”

Despite the service’s name, Peters said it isn’t just for the sad.

“You don’t have to be grieving to crave a more contemplative space during this frenetic season,” she said. “Even if you just need a break from malls and loud parties, we hope you’ll join us,” she added.

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