An ‘old Christmas’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2002

Features Editor

Christmas often comes and goes in a flurry of activity.

Old Christmas, however, comes quietly and brings the Christmas season to a meaningful and inspirational close.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The song and scripture service is held annually at 6 p.m. on Jan. 6 – Old Christmas Day – at historic Clay Hill Church in Pronto and is open to all who want to share in this unique experience.

Betty Carter has family ties to C

lay Hill Church, but said the service will have meaning for everyone.

"The Old Christmas service is one of the most inspirational Christmas programs I have ever attended," she said. "It is the best thing that has happened to Pronto since our little town closed down. It brings back Christmas like it used to be and it’s wonderful."

Carter said Old Christmas comes at a time when faith has been renewed by the season, but, at a time of slowing down and reflecting.

"Old Christmas is a continuation of the celebration of Jesus’ birth and it is also a reminder that we should celebrate the birth of the Christ Child every day of the year," Carter said. "Old Christmas is a service I look forward to all year long. I think a lot of people do and I think it’s becoming a Christmas tradition with a lot of us."

The lantern-light service will be led by the Rev. Richard Holmes, pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church. The congregation will be invited to sing the old carols of Christmas and special music will be presented by the Southern Strings, Shelia Jackson, Tori Lee, Melody Rodgers and Bobbi Jo Strother.

Annette Bryan, a member of the Clay Hill committee, said most Christmas celebrations place the shepherds and the Wise Men at the stable at the same time. However, it did not happen that way.

"The shepherds visited the Christ Child who was lying in a manger, but, the Wise Men came from far away," Bryan said.

"Matthew 2:11 tells us that they visited the Christ Child in a house. That indicates that the family had moved from the stable.

"We know that Mary had to be in the area until time for her purification offering at the temple in Jerusalem. We don’t know exactly when the Wise Men arrived to worship the Christ Child and present their gifts."

A traditional number of the Bible is 12, and the number not a literally number, but a symbolic one. So 12 is the number of days that has historically been associated with the arrival of the Wise Men, thus the 12 Days of Christmas.

Since the Fourth Century, Jan. 6 has been honored as the meeting of the Wise Men or Magi with the infant Jesus. The day is still celebrated in other countries, but in the United States, not many celebrations are held on that day.

"Traditionally, the English celebrated the holy day with the giving of gifts because the Wise Men came bearing gifts," Mrs. Bryan said. "Now, we celebrate with gift giving on Christmas Day because that’s when Santa Claus comes."

The 12 Days of Christmas end on Jan. 6. The Christian church celebrates Epiphany which means manifestation.

Old Christmas celebrates the Light that came into the world on that wonderful, holy night.

Everyone is invited to attend the service at Clay Hill Church which is located on County Road 26 at Pronto.

From Troy take Elm Street until it dead ends on the Banks/ Brundidge highway. Cross the railroad track (County Road 26) and Clay Hill Church is about a half mile on the left.

From Brundidge turn right on County Road 26 ( about 3 miles north of Brundidge).

The bus will leave from Brundidge United Methodist Church at 5:45

p.m. Sunday bound for Clay Hill.