As Christmas Eve descends upon the area, local churches are inviting everyone to celebrate the original reason for the season.
Some churches use regular weeknight meeting times for the Christmas Eve service, such as Beacon Baptist Church. Located in Millville, it will offer refreshments and a fellowship hour after the 7 to 9 p.m. service on Thursday, Dec. 23.
Christmas Eve is also a time when many non-churchgoers attend worship.
“Sometimes, this is the only time people get themselves in church, and we try to make it very special so they’re moved … and will want to learn more about Jesus,” said Nancy Piel, administrative assistant at Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church. She also said the Christmas Eve service can “reaffirm the faith” for the regulars.
On Friday, Dec. 24, Mariner’s Bethel will hold a 7 p.m. service and an 11 p.m. candlelight service with communion.
The Rev. James Foster officiated Antioch AME’s early Christmas service, and he cited the comparable universality of the holiday: “We sing the music and song of all nations. … It’s a magical season.”
Frankford’s Antioch AME already held its Christmas service, in which members visited from as far away as northern Delaware, Maryland and New York, but it will also host a New Year’s Eve service at 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 31.
The Rev. Bruce Miller of St. Matthews by the Sea in Fenwick Island illustrated the ambient mood of a Christmas Eve service, which begins at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 24. Lights will be dimmed at the end – only candlelight will sparkle in the hall – and the congregation will sing “Silent Night.”
The tradition will be underscored by the sermon, which is “Un-silent Night.” Based on a John Indermark book, the concept is that commotion surrounded the Nativity, including the overfull inn, the young woman in labor and the migrating shepherds.
From messages of peace at United Methodist churches to stories about John the Baptist at non-denominational sanctuaries, churches will be celebrating one major idea.
“In a sense, it’s the heart of what we believe as Christians,” said Father David Kelley. “Without Christ having come as a human, we could not have had salvation. As Christians, our understanding is that’s the most important event in human history.”
Kelley serves St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Bethany Beach and the newer Our Lady Guadalupe in Roxana. St. Ann’s features 4 p.m. children’s mass and midnight mass on Christmas Eve, plus a 10:30 a.m. Christmas Day mass. Our Lady of Guadalupe will offer services at 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.
Each of the clergy members mentioned the important purpose of Christmas Eve services, which is to come together “in the midst of all the entrappings — gifts, shopping, running around — to truly pause and remember,” said Rev. Jeremy Ferruccio of the Dagsboro Church of God. “So much of what we are about revolves around this single moment.”
The Rev. Kim Tephabock will lead Dagsboro’s service on Friday, Dec. 24, at 10 p.m.
Many other local churches will host holiday services this weekend. Contact them directly for more information.