OLD CHRISTMAS: Pike County tradition tells wise men’s story

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, January 1, 2020

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Old Christmas at Clay Hill is a celebration of the arrival of the Wise Men to worship the Baby Jesus, the King of Kings. The service of scriptures and songs is held annually at 6 p.m. on January 6, Old Christmas Day, at historic Clay Hill Church at Pronto.

Old Christmas is a non-denominational service that brings the Christmas season to a quiet and meaningful close.

The Old Christmas at Clay Hill service is a 20-year tradition in Pike County. The lamp-light service is held in the one-room, wood-frame Clay Hill Church that is decorated with offerings from Mother Nature. Music is played on acoustic instruments and those in attendance are the choir. Special music will include “Sweet, Little Jesus Boy,” “O Holy Night” and “Reason for the Season.”

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Rev. Ed Shirley, pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church, said not many churches today have an Epiphany service and Old Christmas offers a special blessing to those who come.

“Sometimes we must make a journey to receive such a blessing,” Shirley said. “We invite all of those who would like to close out the Christmas season in the quietness and beauty of this old church and in a wonderfully spiritual way to be with us for the Old Christmas service.”

Shirley said the Christmas story will be shared to lead up to the arrival of the Wise Men.

“The Wise Men or Three Kings arrived about two years after the birth of the Christ Child,” Shirley said. “Most Nativities have the Wise Men at the manger scene but it was not that way. The Wise Men came much later. But the Wise Men at the manger complete the Christmas story as they, the worldly kings submit to Jesus, the Kingdom King.”

“Old Christmas at Clay Hill takes us back to an old-time Christmas. The emphasis is on the right things, the things that Christmas is really about. The service tells the story of the birth of Christ and the arrival of the Wise Men through the reading of the scriptures and the singing of the old Christian hymns. It’s a wonderful celebration of Christmas and what it’s really about.”

Clay Hill Church is located between Banks and Brundidge, just off Highway 93 on County Road 4408. Everyone is invited.