Christmas Eve . . . and all the trimmings

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We are so excited about Christmas Eve at Restoration!

Restoration will have 3 services on December 24 to celebrate the incarnation of God in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Before I describe what to expect at each service, let me answer the most important logistical question:  

Where should I park?

Restoration uses a parking garage that is located over I-66 at the corner of 15th and Quincy Streets.  You can see a map of it here.   This garage is HUGE!  Feel free to use the entire thing.  You will see signs that say ‘permit only’ but they do not apply on Christmas Eve.

Restoration will hire 2 shuttles to move people from the garage to our building.  If it is a nice evening, feel free to take the 7-minute walk.  Otherwise, we hope that one of the shuttles will be at the lot every five minutes.

We encourage you to arrive early.

3 Services?  Wow!  Tell me about them.  The services at 3pm and 5pm will be identical and geared toward the attention span of a child.   The 9pm will feel different–  more contemplative, traditional, quiet, and candle-lit.  Generally, the 3 services will have the same readings, same preacher, same progression of carols.

Will there be candles?  Yep.  A bunch of them.   All around.  We will sing Silent Night while holding candles.  The kids will get glow sticks to hold at the 3pm and 5pm.  It will be beautiful!

Will there be childcare?  Yes, at the 3pm and 5pm services there will be fully-staffed nurseries for children who are the age of 2 or younger.  Kids from pre-k on up are welcome to participate in the worship service in the sanctuary.  At the 3pm and 5pm, there will be take-home goodie bags with items to help kids engage in the service.  We are totally fine if kids get a little wiggly, but there is enough singing and candles and pictures and stories that they stay pretty engaged.

What should the kids wear?  At the 3pm and 5pm, kids come dressed as their favorite character from the nativity story.  During the Gospel reading, they will have the opportunity to stand when their character is mentioned.  We always love having ‘a Christmas pageant in the pews’ at this time of year…  We usually have a whole gaggle of shepherds, sheep, stars, angels, wisemen, and beautiful Mary(s).  An old robe does the trick.  We have also had Buzz Lightyear make a cameo in the nativity.

What should the adults wear?  Well if you aren’t going to come as ‘Joseph’, just come as you are.  There will be people in their holiday best, people who love a nice pair of jeans, and everything in between.

Will there be presents?  Of course!  All of the children will receive an ornament in their goodie bag.  The ornament – for their tree at home –  is a sweet reminder that God loves them.

Will there be an opportunity to give?  Yes!  On Christmas Eve, all of our offerings are given to organizations outside of Restoration who are locally doing good and beautiful work for the sake of the vulnerable and those on the margins.  Our church does not keep anything that is given at these services.  This year, we will give our financial offerings to support the work of Little Lights Urban Ministries which empowers underserved youth, families, and communities in Washington DC by sharing the hope of Christ through compassionate action, caring relationships, and racial reconciliation.

Can I give anything else?  Definitely.  Each year, on Christmas Eve, Restoration has given gifts to Doorways, a safe place where women and families can receive help. This year Restoration has been invited to bring in bedroom items. Here is a list of specific items most useful to the women and families Doorways supports. Bring your gifts to the Restoration Christmas Eve services at 3pm, 5pm, or 9pm. You’ll have a chance to bring them forward during the offering part of the service.

Do you need volunteers?  We sure do.  If you are already a Sunday volunteer log onto MSP and select something.  If you have never volunteered, don’t worry.  It’s easy!  We would love you to help us.  Contact Kathy Kenyon (kathy@restorationarlington.org) and she can get you squared away.

How long will the service last?  The 3pm and 5pm will be about 75 minutes.  We sing 5 or 6 carols, with parts of the Christmas story read in between, then we close with The Holy Eucharist.  The 9pm will be closer to 90 minutes.

Anything else distinct about the 9pm?  Yes!  We will have incense in the procession and the Eucharist will be sung in a fashion similar to our Easter Vigil service.  The music team will include a bassoon, cello, and clarinet!

What about Christmas Day?  It’s on a Sunday!  We will have one service at 10am and we would love for you to come back.  You could even wear your Christmas pjs!  [What could be better than waking up Christmas morning to open stockings and have a little breakfast, followed by a church family celebration of Jesus’ birthday, then home again to unwrap gifts and have lunch?]

Anything else I should know?  We love Christmas and the chance to meet lots of neighbors, family members, and folks who don’t normally come to Restoration.  We offer you a warm welcome this Christmas season and all of the Sundays that follow.  We are grateful to be a part of the Arlington Community, and we pray for it every day.