Area churches prepare for Christmas

By Sean Leary

Despite the gross commercialization of Christmas, it remains primarily a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and “the rebirth of Christ into our lives.”

Area churches are in the midst of preparing for “one of the most holy days of the year.” The ways these houses of worship are preparing for the holiday are similar in sentiment, yet very different in the events they are planning around it.

One common ground all area churches are covering is the scheduling of masses for Christmas Day. Most churches also have masses scheduled for Christmas Eve as well, yet a number of churches scale down their schedules with the migration of students and faculty back to their home towns.

“The last big mass we have is the weekend before exam week,” said Marie Sellers, a pastoral associate for the Newman Catholic Center. “We try to schedule most of our events before students go home, to accommodate them because they are a large part of our community.”

In addition to masses, the Newman Center is holding an advent penance service at 9 p.m. tonight. Advent is the Christian ritual which takes place in the four weeks prior to Christmas, in which the church and its community prepares for the coming of Christ.

For each week of advent, a candle is lit to signify the “change from darkness to light,” Sellers said. Each candle signifies penance, hope and joy, she said.

Many churches are holding musical programs, or candlelight services to celebrate the holiday. One such church is Immanuel Lutheran.

On Dec. 16, Immanuel Lutheran is holding a children’s program celebrating “God’s Christmas gifts to us.” On Christmas Day, the church will hold its mass broadcast upon DeKalb’s WCBK, 1030-AM. At 7 p.m., they will hold a candlelight service.

“All of the events are important to celebrate Christ’s role in our lives,” said Immanuel member Marilyn Mull.

Still other church communities are celebrating in other ways. A popular service many churches perform at Christmas and year-round is collecting donations of food and clothing and distributing these to needy families within the church community.

Judson Baptist Fellowship is going one step further in that aspect, by bringing this service to a global level through the sale of third world crafts. The crafts are sold for the costs of importing them, and include clothing, bronze items, jewelry, wall hangings and various other items, according to the church.

Judson also has altered its mass schedule because of students’ vacations, by having its Christmas worship Dec. 23.

Many churches noted that with the fast pace of modern society, people need the moral and spiritual foundation that worship can provide.

“There is a definite need for spiritual return,” Sellers said. “Christmas is a time of prayerfulness, and it helps us to keep in contact with the real meaning of Christmas, which is the entry and rebirth of Christ into our lives.”