“It’s everything,” Morgan said about Jesus’ birth. “Now I’m going to use a word here that is very important to me and you don’t hear it too much because it’s kind of a theological word — incarnation. It literally means that the God of heaven and Earth became a human being, became one of us. I hear people say Christmas is a birthday, well [yes] that’s right but it’s more than that.
“It is God in human flesh. The God of the universe who made everything that is, was and ever will be loved us so much he put on skin and became one of us born in the form of a helpless baby. And, of course, we talk about what that helpless baby did when he grew up through the year. But that idea of the incarnation is what I think is missing from a lot of people’s understanding of why we celebrate Christmas.”
On Monday, Trinity UMC — 814 West Ave. in Cartersville — will hold Christmas Eve services at 6 and 10 p.m., which combined are expected to draw at least 400 worshippers.
“We are featuring ‘The Song of the Angels,’” Morgan said. “The whole Advent season, we’ve been looking at the ‘Songs of [a] Savior,’ as we have called it, from Luke’s Gospel. And we’ve done ‘The Song of Simeon,’ ‘The Song of Zechariah’ and last Sunday our choir did a complete musical service on Sunday morning. Then this coming Sunday, [Dec. 23], I’m doing ‘The Song of Mary the Magnificat’ and then on Christmas Eve, both services, we’re doing ‘The Song of the Angels.’
“There will be a message based on Luke 2:8-20 and we will sing familiar Christmas songs. We will have some special Christmas music. We will celebrate Holy Communion. And then — this is one of my favorite things we do every year is — we conclude the service by lighting candles. Every worshipper gets a candle and we pass the light among us — the flame of the candles. We turn off the lights in the sanctuary and just have the candle glowing and the lights of our Chrismon tree and then we sing ‘Silent Night.’”
At St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 850 Douthit Ferry Road in Cartersville, three Masses will be celebrated on Christmas Eve.
“We have Mass at 4 [p.m.], Mass at 8 [p.m.] and Mass at 11 [p.m.],” said the Rev. Daniel Stack of St. Francis of Assisi. “They’re different in that 4 o’clock is focused more toward families with small children. They’ll have a little Christmas pageant incorporated in that. ... Then the 8 o’clock is [in] Spanish and most of our Spanish families have a lot of young children too but some of them will be attending the 4 o’clock.
“... And then 11 o’clock will be the famous midnight Mass. We haven’t done it in a few years because we had space constraints here and different reasons. ... There’s a thousand other places [people] can go but they’re here and they’re here because it’s important and they want to share it with their kids.”
With communion services scheduled for 5 and 7 p.m. on Monday, First Baptist Church of Emerson — 11 Franklin Loop in Cartersville — invites the community to join them in celebrating Jesus’ birth.
“We’ll have a little music and then I will hold a baby and recite the Christmas story. I’ve been doing that for right at 20 years — not here but in different churches — and it always touches people,” said the Rev. Dr. Gregg Potts of First Baptist Church of Emerson. “And then families will come down and we’ll have about two or three tables set up and instead of distributing the elements like we do typically, families will come down and gather around the tables. They’ll come down in family units. That’s always a real special time.
“[There will] be a minister at each table and people will be told when you come down, ‘If you want one of us to pray for you, just kind of nod at us and if you don’t then one of [your] family members will lead [you] in prayer. And then we’ll serve them the Lord’s Supper and they’ll go back to their seats. As far as what’s special, I guess really it’s a toss-up for me. Holding the baby while reading the Christmas story is always kind of special and then families observing the Lord’s Supper together, there’s just something about that. It’s a real special time.”
Echoing Morgan’s comments, Potts believes it is important for area residents to recognize the true meaning of Christmas.
“It’s easy to get distracted with all the activity but Christmas is about the birth of Christ,” he said. “And I would encourage everyone to make it a part of their family Christmas tradition to find a local church and celebrate the birth of Jesus.”
For a more in-depth list of Christmas-related church services that will be held throughout the county, see The Daily Tribune News’ Family & Living page on Thursday.