Episcopalians believe in delayed gratification.
They strictly adhere to Advent worship, recognizing that in the liturgical sense Christ has not yet been born. Episcopalians don’t sing Christmas carols during worship in the season of Advent, nor is the church fully decorated for Christmas.
However, when the big day arrives, the Episcopalians pull out all the stops to celebrate the birth of the King of Kings. The church is adorned in greenery and poinsettias, the music is glorious, the white vestments are worn by the clergy, and the overall setting is one of great adoration and joy.
Two Christmas Eve services at St. Patrick’s will provide worship opportunities, one for families with small children, and another more formal worship for those who prefer classical music and traditional liturgy.
At 5 p.m., the church will be filled with families with small children who will enjoy St. Patrick’s children’s pageant, carols, and Holy Eucharist. This service is designed to provide a meaningful worship with children in mind, telling the Christmas story from a child’s perspective.
At 7:30 p.m., violinist Heidi Tanner and classical saxophonist Bill Gottschalk, accompanied by Sally Neel, organist and director of music at St. Patrick’s, will present a classical Christmas recital prior to the 8 p.m. traditional Christmas Eve service. Their music will include many beautiful carols and Christmas favorites.
At 8 p.m., following the Christmas recital, St. Patrick’s will offer a beautiful traditional service with carols accompanied by special guest instrumentalists and Sally Neel at the organ. Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s, will bring his Christmas message and will celebrate Holy Eucharist, followed by the candlelight singing of “Silent Night.” The service will conclude with joyous music welcoming the birth of Christ.
On Christmas Day, at 10 a.m., worshippers will enjoy a quiet informal service.
“This service is always very special,” says Fr. Doug. “There is something very lovely about waking up early on Christmas morning, opening presents around the tree, then going to church to acknowledge the day of our Lord’s coming into the world to live among us. People tend to come in casual attire, and enjoy celebrating the day in worship and song. It brings the true meaning of Christmas into perspective as we leave church to spend time with family and friends.”
On Sunday, Dec. 26, the morning service will be dedicated to singing Christmas carols and celebrating the Holy Eucharist. This service, called “Joyful Noise Sunday,” allows the congregation to select their favorite carols to sing in place of the sermon.
“This is always a favorite day among our congregation,” says Fr. Doug, “as it allows us Episcopalians to finally sing all those Christmas carols we have been anxiously waiting to sing during the Advent season preceding our Christmas Eve celebrations.”
Visitors are invited to join the St. Patrick’s congregation in welcoming the birth of Christ at any or all of these services.
St. Patrick’s is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd., next to the hospital.