Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Christmas Church

While out and about to do some shopping today, my husband and I visited a church in the neighborhood where I grew up. It's always been a favorite of mine because of its Christmas ministries and their beautiful candlelight service on Christmas Eve.

I tried getting a nice pic of the poinsettia star in the sanctuary, but even climbing up the stairs to the balcony didn't help much. The star is about 15 feet across and made up of hundreds of plants - really very pretty. Part of why my husband and I chose Christmastime for our wedding is because churches are so beauitiful at this time of year that we didn't need to spend any extra money on flowers to decorate with.

The church also has a few displays that tell the story of Christmas and of the life and ministry of Jesus. I wasn't able to photograph either, but there is a reproduction of Herod's Temple and a Putz. The Putz is a sound and light show that brings the story of the nativity to life with a 40 foot model of Israel and the three main cities of the Christmas Story.

Outside the church is a creche with donkeys, sheep, and goats - which of course is my favorite of all the displays. The church has been doing this for more than 50 years and it draws a lot of people to the site who then wander inside the church and maybe learn a bit more of the meaning of our Christmas celebration. The creche was what first brought me to visit this church as a teenager, and I have nice memories of attending services on Christmas Eve and then stopping by the creche to see the animals in the quiet after midnight on Christmas Eve.

I was a little bothered by signs on the fence letting the public know that the church has the animals checked out by a veterinarian and the SPCA and reminding us that they are farm animals and able to withstand our *frigid* NJ winters and are well-supplied with food. Apparently they've had a hard time with people worrying over the welfare of these animals! That didn't stop a lady from feeding them two loaves of white bread, despite the signs asking that the public not feed them, never mind the hay strewn about everywhere for the animals to eat. Some people just can't help being silly, I guess.

14 comments:

Ruth said...

What a great nativity scene. Doesn't look like your winter is too frigid yet. The church interior is beautiful. I have never seen a poinsettia star before, festive and still sacred.

Susan Gets Native said...

What a beautiful church. I wanted to get married around Christmas, but every one told me I was crazy.
So that means your anniversary is coming up?
*scurrying to go make a nice card*

vicki said...

That poinsetta star is magnificent- now that is a good use of a relatively, mmm, not always so attractive plant.

We spend at least half our time at the zoo trying to educate people about the problems with feeding the animals- esp. food that isn't all that nutritious, even for people. With waterfowl, it's disasterous as it swells in their bellies and keeps them from eating the non-absorbent foods they naturally eat. Lots of urban birds and waterfowl starve to death on white bread. It also alters their ph and leads to higher coliform counts in the ponds and rivers and so forth and so on. Okay, sorry for that little rant...

I love the creche with live animals! And happy anniversary time to you!

LauraHinNJ said...

Ruth: Mid 50's today - no winter wonderland here.

Susan: Better be quick! It's today.

Vicki: You're right - white bread isn't good for anyone. I know it's bad for ducks, would imagine the same for sheep and goats. Why are people convinced all animals but their own are starving?

samtzmom said...

What a cool nativity!

pablo said...

Hmmm. The Yiddish word "putz" has a quite different meaning.

NatureWoman said...

Wow - poinsettias 15 feet across - now that's beautiful!

LauraHinNJ said...

Pablo: Wandering around in the church yesterday a lady stopped me in the hall and asked if I was looking for the *putz* - couldn't keep the smile off my face as I told her yes.

beth said...

I love this picture; what a beautiful sanctuary! Our church meets in the local high school, and while it is a beautiful auditorium, we lose so much of the sense of beauty and serenity found in a church like this one. Thanks for a lovely post...

KGMom said...

Interesting that your church places the poinsettias in a star shape. Our church, with the poinsettias in today, arranges them in two tree shapes, on either side of our pulpit.
We also chose December for our wedding because I liked the decoration possibilities. My attendants carried white poinsettia bouquets!
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Cathy said...

I, too, like Pablo, was only familiar with the yiddish sense of the word 'putz'. That's why I love blogs - there's always something new to learn. So I "Googled" it. Thanks for another fun post, Laura.

"The word "putz" is from the German "putzen" for "to decorate, especially to adorn a church."

Oh! Happy Anniversary - right?

silverlight said...

Some people think the signs do not apply to them. Dummb.
What the do not realize is: what goes in must come out.
Lovely church.
Beautiful way of displaying poinsettias and a star.

kwhary said...

Seems like the question the lady asked you regarding the "putz" was indeed true. It didn't take you long to find the "putz" when she threw the loaves of bread in for the animals. I mean "putz" in the Yiddish sense of the word......

LauraHinNJ said...

Beth: There is a certain feeling to a church. Is yours a young one that it doesn't have its own building?

kgmom: Thanks for the anniversary wishes! I think my church uses the tree shape also, will have to work on remembering.

Cathy: I didn't realize the word had German origins also.

Silverlight: lol!

Kevin: Do you have any Jewish friends - cause I've learned lots of good words that way!

You've been to St. John's right and seen the animals?