Children donned halos, robes and head scarves at First Presbyterian Church’s Christmas Eve service to retell the birth of Jesus Christ, the child that Christians believe is God’s greatest gift to humankind.
Shon Peppers, minister of family at First Presbyterian in Gainesville, shared with children the story of Christmas.
“Today, this day, in the town of David, a savior has been born unto you,” he said. “That is a story worth telling and retelling.
Peppers reminded children and their parents that only God, not checkbooks, can bring the kind of peace that abounds in hearts on Christmas.
“God’s gift is love, and our job is to give it to others,” he said.
Before children sang “Away in a Manger,” Associate Pastor Paul Evans told children that it was angels who first heralded Christ’s birth, and only a precious few Christmas carols celebrate the real meaning of Christmas.
“On the first Christmas it was the music and the songs of the angels that called us to worship,” he said. “May we all experience once again something of that first Christmas that happened so very, very long ago.”
First Presbyterian member Stacey Rutherford said her family has attended the church’s Christmas Eve children’s service for years and looks forward to the special afternoon. This year her daughter Tatum, 7, played Mary and her daughter, Brenley, 4, played an angel in the service.
“It’s very exciting, especially being a part of it,” she said. “It brings families together, and I think it helps children to understand the meaning of Christmas.”
Senior Pastor David McDonald asked children at the service what they wanted to tell God.
While some thanked God for their cats, cousins and families, others thanked God for Jesus.
“Thank you for Jesus’ birthday,” one child said.
“Thank you for sacrificing your son for us,” said another.
McDonald encouraged all children and adults to reconnect with their child-like faith over the holiday and to carry that faith through the next 365 days until the service next year.
“Have a sense of adventure like a child would do,” he said. “Whatever you face that day, trust in God like a child would.”