Old Christmas Jan. 6 at Clay Hill

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 3, 2004

Each year, Nativity scenes are part of the Christmas season. Almost always, the crech\u00E9 includes, Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child, the shepherds and the Three Wise Men.

Live nativity scenes, pageants and programs all herald the birth of the Newborn King with the same worshippers at his side. But it was never that way, said the Rev. Richard Holmes, pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church.

"The Wise Men or Kings did not arrive until much later," Holmes said. "The scriptures tell us that when the Wise Men arrived, bringing gifts for the Christ Child, they visited him in a house, not in the stable where he was born."

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Holmes said most authorities set the arrival of the Wise Men at three months from the time of Jesus' birth. Others say it could have been as long as two years.

"Each year, on January 6, Old Christmas is celebrated at places around the world," Holmes said. "It is not celebrate in our country as often as it once was. But each year, we have a special service, Old Christmas at Clay Hill, celebrating the arrival of the Wise Men at the place of the Christ Child."

Holmes said Clay Hill Church is one of the county's oldest churches.

"Clay Hill is a ideal setting in which

to celebrate Old Christmas," Holmes said.

The historic church is a one-room wood frame building with wood floors and the original pews and altar. The church is decorated with seasonal offerings from Mother Nature. There is no electricity, so the little church is illuminated by oil lamps and candlelight. There is no heat, so it is warmed by the spirit of Christmas, Holmes said.

"The service is simply a service of scriptures and songs," he said. "We

have special music by Shelia Jackson, Johnny Barron, Dan Fraley and Calvin Bodiford and the Southern Strings. It is one of the most meaningful services of the Christmas season. It comes at a quiet time after all of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and we can all take a few minutes to reflect on the season and celebrate the real reason for the season - the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ."

Old Christmas at

Clay Hill begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 6. Clay Hill Church is located between Brundidge and Banks just off Highway 93 east on County Road 6. Everyone is invited come and the bring the Christmas season to a meaningful close and the New Year off to with renewed spirit, Holmes said.