Wednesday, Dec. 21, will be the shortest day and longest night of the year.

Wednesday, Dec. 21, will be the shortest day and longest night of the year.

It can leave some people gloomy. Others find the holidays anything but jolly, while still others will have experiences that make it difficult to be merry and bright.

At 7 p.m. on Dec. 21, Maple Grove United Methodist Church, 7 W. Henderson Road, will be hosting a "Blue Christmas Service."

"It's a quiet service, fostering reflection and perhaps a little peace," according to member Miriam Bowers Abbott. "It's not a typical Christmas service, though we have those, too."

Maple Grove United Methodist has been holding a Blue Christmas Service for a number of years, the Rev. Glenn Schwerdtfeger said. This will be his first time presiding over one there, having taken over earlier this year from the Rev. William Croy. (See related story.)

Another standard term for this kind of gathering is a "Longest Night Service," which this literally will be, Schwerdtfeger said.

"The timing is not only tied to Christmas but is also tied to that season of darkness," he said. "The goal really is to give people an opportunity to enter into God's presence at this season of the year without what I would call the pressure of the cheerfulness machine of Christmas.

"It's not a pity party on the one hand, but on the other hand it's not a time where you feel you have to force a smile."

The holiday season isn't all upbeat music and presents under the tree for everybody, the minister pointed out. Sometimes people lose their jobs at this time of year, and sometimes they lose loved ones.

"I think Blue Christmas gives people an opportunity to acknowledge the sadness, the grief, the loss that they've had," Schwerdtfeger said.

Music for the service will be "very sweet jazz" performed by church member Greg White and his combo, according to the minister.

"It really is very fitting for that service," Schwerdtfeger said.