Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Hebron Crossroads 12-22
By Jeff Gill

The time has come!

Christmas Sunday, Christmas Eve on Tuesday, Christmas Day on Wednesday; the time to gather and celebrate and give and receive is now upon us. If you’re looking for places to join in the celebration, here are some of the observances going on this week around the Hebron Crossroads.

Jacksontown United Methodist Church is having only the 9:15 am service this Sunday, with baptism and confirmation part of worship, along with a youth cantata. On Christmas Eve they will hold a candlelight service at 7:00 pm.

Hebron Christian Church on West Main will celebrate Christmas Sunday at 10:30 am, and on Christmas Eve the candlelight service with communion starts at 7:30 pm, following a concert of piano and organ music by David Ford from 7:00 pm.

Hebron United Methodist Church on East Main will share a cantata at the 10:00 am service this Sunday, and hold Christmas Eve worship at 7:00 pm.

And out on Beaver Run Road, Licking Baptist Church will hold services at 10:45 am Sunday and their Christmas Eve will start at 7:30 pm.

On Sunday afternoon, the entire community is invited to "Blues Christmas" at 4:00 pm in the Lakewood High auditorium. Sponsored by Jacksontown UMC, Hebron Christian, and Hebron UMC, this special musical program, free to the public with refreshments after, includes folk, a little rock, and of course blues-themed Christmas music. A number of churches plan to carol to their home-bound members later on that evening, and this program should get us all in the mood for singing. Load up the minivan and come to listen and sing, and chase away the holiday blues with "Blues Christmas." (No word on Elvis sightings.)

If you are looking for Christmas company, there are some meals open to the public in Licking County that are intended for anyone just looking for some extra faces and voices at the table. On Christmas Eve, at Central Christian Church on Mt. Vernon Road in Newark, a holiday meal is open to all from 4:00 to 7:00 pm when their Christmas Eve service begins. I hear that Steve and Connie Crothers have had so much spare time on their hands since her son A. J. Voris graduated from Lakewood (he’s a very active guy, we all know), that they wanted to take that new-found energy and cook dinner for however many hundred show up. You could come eat, or you could come help cook!

And on Christmas Day at noon, in the cafeteria at St. Francis de Sales’ Catholic Church just west of downtown Newark, Homer Curry and his (extended) family make dinner for all comers as well as carry out for all the police and fire crews working Christmas Day. It was my pleasure to "join" that family for a number of years (that was BC, or "before child"), and I can assure you that the fun and fellowship is there in full measure on both sides of the counter.

On the "cocooning" front, we’ve already seen "White Christmas", but all true Bing Crosby fans know that he sang Irving Berlin’s classic song first in "Holiday Inn" released in 1942. You can hear in some of the incidental dialogue the talk of mobilization and preparation for the war not quite begun, but already all around.

When I was a student at Purdue University, one of the vice-presidents who did the lobbying down at the statehouse told me a story while driving to a hearing on higher ed about walking onto the set of the closing scene in his new lieutenant’s uniform. His dad worked for the studio, and he had just finished basic and wanted to surprise his family by showing up unannounced, and the gate guard sent him over to a soundstage where the "film within the film" was being shot.

"Holiday Inn" was already one of my favorite films, but now whenever I see it, during that last sequence I visualize my friend as a young man, khakis still crisp, standing just out of sight and about to make his father jump with delighted surprise.

Oh, and of course, it was July, and the AC wasn’t helping at all as the bleached corn flakes fell and Marjorie Reynolds pulled her fur coat tight! But Bing shook his hand, Marjorie kissed him, he had one more meal at home, and went off ready to win the war single-handedly. Sixty years later, it still has that effect.

May your Christmas be full of joy and hope, family and friends, promise and fulfillment. . .and may you take the opportunity to help at least one other person this holiday season. The gift you give will be the only one you really get to keep.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and your Hebron Crossroads correspondent; if you have news to share from the area, call 928-4066 or e-mail disciple@voyager.net. Please remember that there is often a two week lead time before printing, so don’t delay, and send your info in now!