Services herald season
Published 5:00 am Thursday, December 24, 2015
BY MICHAEL SHIPMA:
Christian churches celebrate the birth of Christ beginning on Christmas Day, hoping to spread Christmas cheer while also preaching the true meaning of the season.
“There always seems to be a good turnout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services,” said the Rev. Ed Shirley, pastor of Brundidge United Methodist. “It really is a family event. Families plan on going to church and being part of the services.”
Shirley said that in the Methodist tradition, his church puts up what is called a Chrismon tree, which is decorated with special ornaments that represent different things within the Christmas season. Traditionally, the evergreen tree is used to symbolize the eternal life brought by Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Den Irwin, who leads St. Martin of Tours in its Catholic Masses, also said that the Christmas season is a special time for families to come in and escape the materialization of the holiday season.
“We celebrate Christmas because it is the time of Jesus’ birth,” he said. “We want to remember the reason of the season. A lot of families will bring their children to our earlier services, so it makes for a special time for the entire family.”
The Catholic church also holds at traditional Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, which is open to the public.
The Church’s celebration of Christmas traditionally starts on Christmas Day, followed by the famous “12 Days of Christmas” leading up to the Epiphany. That time is generally reserved for celebration and reflection, Irwin said.
That celebration is generally what attracts more people to attend church, said the Rev. Danny Arnold, pastor of Park Memorial Methodist Church.
“People have an emotional commitment and attachment to the church, especially on Christmas Eve,” Arnold said. “It gives people a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with the church and their faith. I’ve always found our Christmas Eve services to be especially full.”
Arnold said that his church, like Shirley’s, has its own Chrismon tree set up in its sanctuary, symbolic of the different aspects of the Christian faith and the Christmas story. Additionally, candlelight services and the singing of Christmas carols are a big part of what makes the services and the season so special and moving.
Arnold said that his church’s Christmas Eve services, like Shirley and Irwin’s, will be casual, family-friendly and time-sensitive.
Schedules for these local churches’ Christmas services are as follows:
Brundidge United Methodist:
• Christmas Eve Holy Communion Service – 6-7 p.m. (Attendees can stay as long as they desire)
St. Martin of Tours:
• Christmas Eve Mass – 5:30 p.m.
• Christmas Eve midnight Mass – 12 a.m.
• Christmas Day Mass – 10 a.m.
Park Memorial Methodist Church:
• Christmas Eve Service of Holy Communion 3-5 p.m. (time of prayer, attendees can stay as long as they desire)
• Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – 6 p.m.
Editor’s note: The Messenger will update the listing of area church services online at www.troymessenger.com. To include a listing, post a message on our Facebook Page or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.