Christmas Service of Remembrance
Stephen Uhler/Pembroke Daily Observer/Postmedia Network On Saturday afternoon, Calvin United Church hosted the Christmas Service of Remembrance, organized by Malcolm, Deavitt and Binhammer Funeral Home. The service, which around 200 people attended, was meant to give those who lost loved ones some comfort during the Christmas season. Here, Bruce England, far right centre, owner of the funeral home, addresses the assembly.
Christmas is a time for joy and getting together with family and friends.
It can also serve as a painful reminder about the loss of loved ones, whether recently or from years ago.
On Saturday afternoon, Malcolm, Deavitt and Binhammer Funeral Home held a special Christmas Service of Remembrance at Pembroke's Calvin United Church, inviting their clientele to attend. Some 200 people attended the service, seeking comfort and fellowship during what has become a difficult time.
Bruce England, funeral director and owner of Malcolm, Deavitt and Binhammer Funeral Home, said this new service replaces their annual Memorial Tree Dedication Service, which for more than 15 years was held in remembrance of loved ones. Following a short service, they were honoured by the planting of tree seedlings throughout Algonquin Park, all of them sponsored by the funeral home.
“The trees are still being planted, and people will get notifications of it,” he said, “but we thought during the Christmas season is when people need that support.”
The response to this service has been extremely positive, England said, which shows the need for it.
Each family who took part received a Christmas tree ornament as a remembrance of their lost one, plus there was a reception in the church hall afterwards, but England said what they really wanted was to bring a sense of peace to everyone, and a feeling they aren't alone facing grief during the holidays.
“This Christmas will be different than Christmases of the past,” he said in his opening address to the gathering. While things seem dark now, England said he wanted to assure them it will get brighter as time goes on.
“We are not beyond repair,” he said. “We hope when you leave here, you do so with a sense of comfort, strength and hope to carry you through your difficult journey.”
The service began and ended with Christmas carols; O, Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night. The Calvin United Church Choir provided a special musical reflection in song, while Malcolm, Deavitt and Binhammer staff took part in a Christmas Prayer of Remembrance, complete with a candle lighting ceremony.
In his message to the assembly, the Venerable Rob Davis of Holy Trinity Anglican Church said Christmas was hard on him and his family the year he lost his father, and dealing with the “cold, hard knot of emptiness and grief” is a tough burden to bear, especially when everyone else is celebrating the holidays.
“It felt like we were spoiling the party,” he said.
Davis said sometimes people are burdened with loss and grief to the extent they feel they cannot free themselves of it, and yet, there is hope in the very season which seems to serve as a painful reminder of those no longer there.
He said the classic Christmas movies are filled with that spirit; of some dramatic event which makes a situation seem hopeless, until a miracle happens to redeem characters and lift them up. This is what happens with Christ, and the God who loves everyone so much He gave his Son to bring light and take the pain away one day.
“That is the hope of Christmas,” he said, “bringing light even while we are still in the darkness.”