Worship provides meaning at Christmas time
The story of a virgin woman giving birth under the watchful eyes of farm animals and a brilliant star leading the way for Wiseman to bring gifts of frankincense and myrrh, spawned a calendar change and an annual celebration across the globe.
The meaning of Christmas is often forgotten among the hectic shopping and anticipation of gifts under evergreens.
Park City churches, however, are trying to remind people of what they may have forgotten. There are plenty of opportunities to fill the spiritual canteen over the weekend.
"People are looking to enter into the spiritual significance of the season," said Pastor Scott Fine of the Mountain Life Evangelical Free Church. "All of the Christmas hoopla is fine and gifts are great, but there is a longing in every human heart to discover God’s great love, and there continues to be a search for meaning and wholeness and peace and joy."
Christmas is a time, Fine says, to reflect on the good people can do for each other.
"The goodness of Christmas, this is exactly what Jesus came to bring," Fine said. "This gift of a personal relationship with God is available today, with sins forgiven and new life imparted. All this comes through God’s gift to us."
According to Fine, we celebrate that gift on Christmas Day when Jesus Christ came into the world. It’s something that most, if not all, Christian churches believe should be celebrated during the holidays.
"I just think it’s important for all of us to get in touch with that part of our lives and nurture it," said Pastor Charles Robinson, of Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church.
There are many ways for individuals to meditate according to their own faith, but a church service may enhance the experience.
"There’s something about being in that sacred space on that sacred day," Robinson said.
Robinson said Christmas is a time to not only celebrating the birth of Christ but the celebration of ourselves as well.
"In the Christian tradition," Robinson said, "Christmas is about celebrating the incarnation, which is a fancy word, of the coming of God into the human community. It’s about celebrating the divinity in all of us."
It’s something that Robinson says we should live every day of the year
"Christmas raises our awareness that all of us have to be born in our hearts and to be conscious of that divinity and live it everyday of our lives," Robinson said. "That’s the essential theology of it."
A church, Fine says, is a welcome venue for any Christian believer during the holidays.
"In a sense its coming home," Fine said, "sensing God’s loving presence in the room is like coming home."
The church services are not just for personal spiritual fulfillment, however.
"You come to a mass in order to have communion with God and each other," Robinson said. Whether you are active in a church or a synagogue, everybody has a spiritual self, a self that longs for some kind of connection.
"There’s something bigger and greater beyond working from 9-5. It gets awoken and stirred at this time more than any time of year. It’s important to be part of a faith community."
Fine believes that people will get more out of Christmas if they can find their connection with a higher power.
"It’s to connect with God in a personal way. That’s our key focus. That’s why Jesus came, to provide a connection. Our Christmas Eve service is full of carols. It’s an upbeat, warm and inviting service that relates to people in a wide variety of backgrounds," Fine said.
Families, Robinson says, come closer together during this time of year. A service is another opportunity to strengthen the unit.
"It’s a huge time for families to come together and spend quality time together. It’s magic," Robinson said. "There’s an energy in the air that’s just magical. People really are kinder and more forgiving this time of year. There’s some part of us that remembers being a child even us older people."
Fine agrees that for families, there is no better option.
"Christmas in general is a great time for families to come together and share the love God puts into each of our hearts," Fine said.
The services are open to all.
"Even for the person who isn’t religious, to sit with others in the community, to soak up the sights and sounds and be open with God. (God) might surprise you. The first Christmas was a surprise," Fine said.
Park City Christmas church services:
Saturday, Dec. 23
*Saint Mary’s Catholic Church will hold a Christmas service at 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 649-9676.
*A traditional Christmas Eve celebration and torchlight parade, presented by Park City Mountain Resort, will take place Dec. 24. Call (800) 222-PARK or log on to http://www.parkcitymountain.com for more information.
*Santa Claus visits Deer Valley Resort Dec. 24. Call (800) 424-3337 or visit http://www.deervalley.com for more information.
*The Park City Community Church will feature Christmas Eve services throughout the day starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 11 p.m. for more information, call 649-8131.
*The Mountain Life Evangelical Free Church will hold traditional candlelight Christmas Eve services at 9:45 a.m. and 5 and 7 p.m. For more information, call 647-5855.
*Saint Mary’s Church will have Christmas Eve services at 9:30 p.m. and midnight. Saint Mary’s will also hold services at The Eccles Center at 5 and 7 p.m. A mass in Spanish will be held at St. Mary’s Church at 7 p.m. For more information, call 649-9676.
*Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church is presenting Handel’s "Messiah" on Christmas Eve at 7:45 and 10:30 a.m. Evening services at the church located at 4595 N. Silver Springs Drive will take place at 5 p.m. (a service for children led by children) and 8 and 11 p.m. An evening service at the Chapel in Old Town, 525 Park Ave, will take place at 10:30 p.m. Seating for this service is limited to 60 and people must have a ticket to get in. Tickets are
free and can be obtained by calling the Church Office at 649-4900 extension 12 or by emailing a request to Beckie@stlukespc.org.
*Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church will hold a Christmas Eve service at 6:30 and 10 p.m. For more information, call 649-2233.
*Creekside Christian Felowship Church will hold a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. For more information, call 658-4687.
*Park City Presbyterian and Saint John’s Church will join together for a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. at the Jim Santy Auditorium. For more information, call 649-2622.
*The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will hold Christmas Eve Services throughout the day. For more information on ward times and meetings, call 649-4750.
*Christmas Day Mass at Saint Mary’s Church will take place at 8 a.m. at the Old Town Chapel and a Children’s Mass will take place at 10 am at St. Mary’s Church. For more information, call 649-9676.
*Saint Luke’s Church will hold a Christmas service at 10:30 a.m. For more information, call 640-4900.
*Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church will hold a Christmas service at 9 a.m. For more information, call 649-2233.
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