The many events leading up to–or rather, preparing the way for–the humble but awesome birth of Jesus Christ might be described as God’s second act of Creation. So many moving parts and personalities, signs and wonders happened in so many places. Yet, all were brought together in a climactic, miraculous moment that would change the world.
There were divine visions and voices, heralding angels and prophets, sojourning kings led by a brilliant star….so many timely events involving so many people and places, all to anticipate and honor one momentous occasion.
Such a sweeping, kinetic panorama of preparations could also describe the celebration of Advent and Christmas in hundreds of churches across the Eastern PA Conference this month. There have been countless praise and worship services, concerts and cantatas, pageants and performances, luncheons and live nativities, church tours and community meals–so much happening in so many places, and all so moving to those who were fortunate to witness and participate in them.
Pre-Christmas concert performances have varied from the classic Handel’s Messiah, to favorite hymns and carols, to spirituals and gospel, to big band jazz and blues. Several churches have offered alternative “Blue Christmas” or “Quiet Christmas” services for people dealing with sadness or the absence of love ones but who nonetheless seek the love, peace, joy and hope that the Advent of Christ promises.
Festive activities include caroling in streets and shopping malls, performing costumed Christmas pageants, making artistic crafts and Advent wreaths for gifts and fundraisers, offering savory pot-luck dinners and desserts, and hosting church tours, open houses and even a reenactment of Las Posadas, the Latino celebration of Mary and Joseph ‘s search for shelter and hospitality for their soon-to-arrive baby.
It’s tempting to name specific churches where some of these celebrations have taken place. We’ve learned of many from e-mail notices and church newsletters. But the list would be too long, and to name some would overlook many more. Suffice it to say there’s “plenty good room” across our region where churches are welcoming and celebrating the Christ child who comes to summon disciples, save souls and transform the world.
Enjoy the colorful photos some have sent us, or we have taken, depicting some of their events. And please send us yours, so we can add them to the gallery. We’ll keep it on display till the Day of Epiphany, Jan. 6, the same day when many families take down their Christmas tree decorations. Enjoy!
By John Coleman
Eastern PA Conference Communications Director
Feature photo from Solid Rock UMC Christmas Play and Candlelight Service