Congregations celebrate reason for holiday season

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal features editor
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This time of year can easily, overwhelmingly become all about getting your hands on what’s shiny and new, on overloading the days with shopping, wrapping, baking and merry-making. Take away the tinsel and cut through those layers of fruitcake and you’ll get down to the origin of the holiday — the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. “The story’s 2,000 years old and it’s being told the same as it was 2,000 years ago,” said Pastor Rob Patterson of Bell Road Baptist Church in Auburn. “The story has been passed on to us and we believe it has the ability to change lives.” Many area congregations believe there is no Christmas without Christ, and they’re doing much to celebrate the nativity. Bell Road Baptist Church has taken this message to the street, literally, by constructing a living nativity scene outside its worship center. See it prior to tonight’s 7 p.m. Christmas Eve candlelight service. “It illustrates the story told in the Bible of Mary and Joseph needing to deliver the Baby Jesus,” Patterson said. Sharing the story of the birth of Jesus Christ is essential to celebrating Christmas, said Rev. David Poganski of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Auburn. “For many it is part of a cherished tradition to remember the birth of our savior,” he said. “To gather as God’s people, to remember that God came to us, that’s how it all started.” St. Paul celebrates with a 7 p.m. Christmas Eve candlelight service tonight. “It reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world and we’re his lights on the Earth the rest of the year,” Poganski said. The church also holds a 10:30 a.m. service on Saturday. Parkside Church of the Nazarene in Auburn has a busy weekend planned, with two Christmas Eve services scheduled, at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The services include everything from Christmas carols and Holy Communion to baptisms and a children’s program. “It’s cool because we’re pretty much getting every symbol of the Christian faith in there,” said Senior Pastor Donny Crandell, who is spending his first Christmas with the Auburn church. There’s good reason to celebrate Christmas, Crandell said. “As a pastor, the idea of the incarnation is one of the coolest concepts in the Christian faith,” he said. “The mystery of God the creator is no longer a mystery since Jesus came.”