Local Churches Offer a Variety of Ways to Celebrate Christmas

One of the numerous blessings of living in the foothill area is the number of houses of worship available. Christmas time is an opportunity for many of them to shine, offering a variety of ways for both residents and visitors to celebrate the holidays while being reminded of "the reason for the season."

 From candlelight services to children's choirs, area churches are eager for the chance to deliver a message of hope and deliverance to people that may feel rushed into a season that leaves them broke and exhausted.

Cited by many as the oldest church in the Crescenta Valley, the Church of the Lighted Window (established in 1897) will be offering both a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day service. Rev. Skip Lindeman will be presiding and he is planning on utilizing the gospels of Luke and Matthew to tell of the birth of Jesus Christ. "Whenever I prepare a sermon, my goal is to deliver a message of hope, light and truth," said Rev. Lindeman of his Christmas discourse. "I hope people will come away from our holiday services with a feeling of 'I need this.'" Christmas Eve service begins at 8 p.m. and will include traditional holiday hymns. Sunday morning service is at 10 a.m.

La Cañada Presbyterian Church expects close to double their normal attendance of 1,000 worshippers at their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. According to church pastor Dr. Gary Dennis, the church's strong music program is a community draw. "We have a huge music program," says Pastor Dennis of the three different children's choirs, adult choir and youth orchestra. Christmas Eve services on Saturday afternoon are at 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. The church will hold a candlelight service at 8 p.m. and beginning at 10:30 p.m., a jazz ensemble will usher in the 11 p.m. traditional service that will include the adult choir and orchestra. Christmas morning service will be at 10:55 a.m. and Pastor Dennis says that the construction that is currently taking place at the church's location should not discourage attendees. He invites everyone to come and learn "that Christ will again be born in them."

The relaxed atmosphere at Calvary Chapel of the Foothills appeals to those who enjoy traditional Christmas hymns without a suit and tie. Pastor Gary Ruff is hoping for a large turnout to complement the 300 to 350 who normally attend Sunday services, but knows that the holidays can mean diminished numbers.

"There's a lot of traveling done over the holidays," he said. "But we have a strong worship team that will lead the congregation in traditional Christmas music. That, coupled with the message of joy that is the Christmas story, will result in an experience that is rewarding and uplifting for everyone who joins us on Christmas morning." Christmas morning service will be at 9:30 a.m.

Though First Church of Christ, Scientist had its formal Christmas program on December 18, the story of the Christ child will be delivered on Sunday morning at its 10 a.m. service. According to church clerk Trudy Beebe, the message will be derived from scriptural references in the Bible and supported by the teachings from the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

Accomplished singer Cheryl Ecker, who received enthusiastic reviews for her role in The Barber of Seville and recently completed work in the production of La Boehme, will perform a solo at the La Cañada United Methodist Church's Christmas Eve service at 11 p.m. Also performing will be the church's director of music David Wulff, a gifted musician who has mastered the accordion, guitar, banjo, and piano. The candlelight communion service will be designed to create a time of reflection for worshippers and will feature a variety of Christmas music. An earlier service at 7 p.m. will feature the children's and men's choirs. Christmas morning service begins at 10:30 a.m. with a message from Pastor Rob Calderhead that will encourage the congregation to look ahead to next year now to create a holiday season that will be a spiritual event. No matter which services people attend, Calderhead is hopeful that they leave with the feeling of being "near the holy."

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