Churches prepare for Christmas Eve services

Hannah Grover

FARMINGTON — As Christmas approaches, San Juan County churches are gearing up for one of the most crowded services of the year on Christmas Eve.

Next week, churches throughout the Four Corners will host Christmas Eve services on Thursday. In addition to families hosting visitors over the holidays, many people who don't typically attend church return for Christmas Eve services.

The uptick in attendance at Christmas Eve services is something Father Guy Mackey with St. John's Episcopal Church also credits partially to the romanticizing of Christmas thanks to popular movies and books.

Mackey said stories like Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" make people feel like they are part of something bigger, and that can lead some to attend church.

The Episcopal church will have three Christmas Eve services next week at 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Thursday at the church, 312 N. Orchard Ave. in Farmington. Mackey said the church even feels different during those evening services.

"The church feels very different. It almost feels like the cave, you know the cave of Bethlehem," he said, referring to the biblical place of Christ's birth.

Another popular aspect of Christmas Eve services is a candlelight ceremony.

The candles represent the light of Christ coming into the world, said Pastor Larry Davis of Trinity Lutheran Church, 1221 E. 20th St. in Farmington.

During the Lutheran church's candlelight services at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday, the lights will be turned off as the candles are lit and the congregation sings the traditional Christmas carol "Silent Night."

Davis said the Christmas Eve service is a worship service that includes carols, a sermon and prayers.

"The focus, of course, is on the birth of Christ," he said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.