Rev. Lowell E. Andrews
Christmas is the commemoration of Christ's nativity, His birth. The earliest mention of Christmas to be celebrated on Dec. 25 is in the Philocalian Calendar, which represents Roman practice in 336. The date was probably chosen to oppose the pagan Roman feast of Natalis Solis Invicti by a celebration of the birth of the "Sun of Righteousness."
After the accession of Constantine, the observance of Dec. 25 in the West spread from Rome. In the Eastern churches that is the Orthodox the closely related feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 6) was at first more important; by the later 4th century this commemorated the Nativity as well as the Baptism of Christ. By the mid 5th century most of the Eastern churches adopted Dec. 25 as the celebration of the Savior's birth as well.
Christmas Day is celebrated in the Western Rite both Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholics on the night before, Christmas Eve (normally at midnight) of the dawn, and of the day itself of Christmas.
Carol la Valley
rim review co-editor
The spirit of Christmas abides in the Rim Country.
Each church has special services that celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Some of these holy services happened this past weekend, but there are more to come.
Ponderosa Baptist Church
The wise men who come to visit Mary and bring gifts to the baby Jesus are the subject of "The Magi," a play adapted by pastor Joe Faulkner of Ponderosa Baptist Church.
"People don't really understand the story of the Magi and the meaning of the three gifts," Faulkner said.
When he searched for a drama to bring the story to life, he found a play online that Saddleback Church allows other churches to adapt at no charge.
He said the play was good, but needed to be longer.
According to Faulkner, the biblical evidence is that the Magi probably came to Mary and Joseph's home two years after King Herod had the children killed.
The three gifts were representational.
Gold was prophetic of Christ's kingly nature. Frankincense was a picture of His priesthood and myrrh, an embalming spice, a picture of His death, Faulkner said.
"How in the world did these Magi even know Christ was born? I think it was because Persian astrologers knew the Hebrew Scriptures because of the prophet Daniel and the prophecy that tells of a star rising," Faulkner said.
In keeping with the family traditions of Christmas, Baily and Beau Shultz will perform and sing in the play, alongside Faulkner, their grandfather.
Ponderosa Baptist Church is located at 1800 N. Beeline Highway, Payson, (928) 474-9279.
"The Magi" will be part of Sunday services at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Dec. 23.
There will be a 6 p.m. candlelight service Christmas Eve.
Church of the Holy Nativity
Christmas is important to Lowell Andrews, the rector at the Church of the Holy Nativity.
Christmas Eve High Mass will be at 6:30 p.m. with carol singing before the service.
"Christmas Eve of course, celebrates the night of the Nativity, which is the birth of Jesus Christ. We know Christmas simply as a commemoration of the birth of Jesus. He was probably born in spring, lambing season," Andrews said.
"Dec. 25 was an attempt to cover a Roman holiday, celebrating the god of the sun."
The word holiday derived from the words holy day.
"Christmas is a day of commitment, of obligation, that is how I grew up," Andrews said.
Low Mass will be at 10 a.m. Christmas Day.
"Come celebrate in a traditional and historic faith in the Anglo-Catholic Rite. Make Christmas again what it is meant to be," Andrews said.
The Church of the Holy Nativity is located at 1414 N. Easy St., Payson. (928) 474-2660.
1103 N. Beeline Highway, Payson, (928) 468-0801
Christmas Eve service is at 6:30 p.m. and includes the children singing carols.
There will not be a service Christmas morning.
The New Year's Eve service is at 6:30 p.m. It features a Prophecy Update.
Community Presbyterian Church
800 W. Main st., Payson, (928) 474-2059
A candlelight service will be held at 7 p.m. Christmas Eve.
The congregation will celebrate Epiphany on the first Sunday in January during the regular 10:30 a.m. service.
First Baptist Church of Pine
4039 N. Highway 87, Pine, (928) 476-3552
Candlelight services will be at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve.
First Southern Baptist Church
corner of West Bonita and South Colcord, (928) 474-3374
The special Christmas program is at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 23.
Mount Cross Lutheran Church
601 E. Hwy 206, Payson, (928) 474-2552
There will be a family carol service at 6:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and a traditional candle light service at 9 p.m.
Mountain Bible Church
302 E. Rancho Road, Payson, (928) 472-7800
Christmas Eve services are at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. In addition to the hour-long service, there will be refreshments, a petting zoo and fire pits. Adult carolers will be dressed in period costumes.
Payson Christian Church
501 E. Rancho Road Payson, (928) 474-3138
A Christmas Eve candlelight service is at 6:30 p.m.
Payson United Methodist Church
414 N. Easy St., Payson, (928) 474-0485
Christmas Eve services are at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. The first is a family service; the second is a traditional service. The children from Wacky Wednesday and the Son Shine Club will sing during each service. There will be communion and candle lighting at both services.
Rock of Ages Evangelical Lutheran Church (Wisconsin Synod)
204 W. Airport Road, Payson, (928) 474-2098
Children will sing and put on a play at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Christmas Day the service is at 9 a.m.
Shepherd of the Pines Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod)
507 W. Wade Lane, Payson (928) 474-5440
There will be a candlelight service at 7 p.m. Christmas Eve, at which, the children's and adult choirs will sing.
The service Christmas Day is at 9 a.m. and includes communion.
The New Year's Eve service will be at 6 p.m. Hearts Ablaze is the theme for the new year.
St Paul's Episcopal Church
1000 N. Easy St., Payson (928) 474-3834
There will be two Christmas Eve services. Congregational singing carols and Holy Eucharist will be at 6:30 and 10:30 p.m.
The Holy Eucharist will be given at 10 a.m. Christmas Day.
St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church
511 S. St. Phillips, Payson (928) 474-2392
Christmas Eve Mass is at 5:30 p.m.
Mass Christmas Day is at 9 and 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
New Year's Eve Mass is at 6 p.m.
Mass is at 8 a.m. on New Year's Day.