Churches to hold Christmas services
Wednesday, Dec 23 2009, 9:10 pm
By Jenna DeWitt: CNJ staff writer
For many Christians, the Christmas holiday would not be complete without celebrating with their faithcommunity.Some Christian denominations have weeks, even a month, centered on celebrating the birth of Christ. For Episcopalians and other churches that follow the liturgy, Christmas Eve is just the start of the 12-day-longChristmas season. According to the Rev. Benjamin Wright, rector of St. James Episcopal Church, the 12 days end with Epiphanyon Jan. 6, when his church celebrates the three wise men visiting the baby Jesus. Also, Christmas Eve is the end of the season of Advent, a month of anticipation of the birth of Christ.³We don¶t sing Christmas carols during Advent. We will sing them through the season after Christmas,´ Wrightsaid. ³Advent is more penitential. We begin it by talking about the second coming of Christ. We go from themore somber season of Advent to joyful season of Christmas.´ At Parkland Baptist Church, associate pastor Wayne Boydstun said they ³celebrate as a church family.´³We just really keep it simple. Like most families, everyone is always welcome,´ he said.Lutherans can trace their Christmas traditions back to Germany more than 500 years ago.However, Immanuel Lutheran Church pastor Scott Blazek said the Dec. 25 date was likely chosen by Emperor Constantine around 300 A.D. to eclipse pagan festivals. He said it is also a convenient time.³It kind of brightens up the doldrums of winter,´ he said.Blazek said Immanuel Lutheran has a traditional candlelight service, ³bringing light into a dark world,´ onChristmas Eve.³We pass the flame from the advent wreath,´ he said. ³From that one white candle, it passes through the wholechurch. Just before the benediction, I invite everybody to lift their candles above their heads. It illuminates thewhole church.´Pastor David Bachelor of Kingswood United Methodist Church said the church¶s two candlelight services holdmuch importance to his congregation.