Old Christmas service marks end to season

Published 5:51 pm Monday, January 3, 2011

After the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, there is the peaceful quiet of Old Christmas at Clay Hill.

The service of scriptures and songs at historic Clay Hill Church has become a tradition in Pike County as it brings the Christmas season to a “beautiful” close, said the Rev. Michael Lawler, pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church,

“Old Christmas at Clay Hill is a beautiful and meaningful way to close the Christmas season as we come together to remember and celebrate the antiquated traditions of the Christian faith,” Lawler said.

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The service is held annually on January 6, Old Christmas, which Lawler said is more ancient than Christmas.

“Old Christmas or Epiphany focuses on the nativity, the incarnation and the baptism of Christ and the coming of the Magi to bring gifts to the Christ Child,” Lawler said. The Old Christmas service is one of scriptures and songs and is similar to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

“Between the reading of the scriptures, the carols of Christmas are sung and, in the same manner of the old country churches,” Lawler said. “The congregation is invited to sing along with many of the songs but several, such as ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Sweet Little Jesus Boy’ and ‘The Reason for the Season’ are sung as specials because our hearts need to be quiet still and listen to their messages.”

Special music will be presented by Ron Jackson, the Benton Brothers and Dan Fraley.

Old Christmas at Clay Hill is a lantern light service and the historic country church is decorated with offerings from Mother Nature – pine, cedar, holly and magnolia leaves. The service ends with the lighting of candles as a reminder that the Christ Child came into the world bringing a light that will forever shine. Following the service, teacakes and cider will be served.

Clay Hill church is on County Road 4408 off Highway 93 between Brundidge and Banks. The church is about a mile after the railroad tracks.