Musical Holiday Feasts in Orinda

Young performers prepare to tell the Christmas story in last year’s pageant at Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church.

    Orinda Churches will offer a wide variety of activities and services during the Christmas season.  A selection of activities and services offered by various congregations follows:
    At St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 66 St. Stephens Drive (254-3770), the Christmas season begins with an Advent Open House on Dec. 2 after the 10 a.m. service.  There will be Advent bread making resulting in Advent bread wreaths to take home. Participants will also work together making a Nativity scene to adorn the parish hall through the season of Christmas.  In the kitchen, participants will bake and decorate cookies while singing hymns and carols.
    On Sunday, Dec. 23 at 10 a.m., a service will be held that invites all to participate in a live-action telling of the story of the birth of Jesus.  On Christmas Eve, an afternoon service will welcome children and families at 4 p.m.  Choral Eucharist services, including candlelight and Holy Communion will take place at 8 and 11 p.m. with a half hour of music before each service. The 10 a.m. Christmas Day worship will highlight a simple Eucharist.
    The Orinda Community Church, 10 Irwin Way (254-4906), will hold its Advent Worship on Dec. 2 from 4 to 7 p.m.  Featured will be holiday crafts, music, dinner and candlelight caroling.  The Christmas Eve service (5 to 6 p.m.) is billed as “a service for all ages in which a pageant and carols pave the way for reflection, sacred music and candlelight.” Costumed volunteers, who will enter the sanctuary when their part in the story is being read, will proclaim the Christmas story.  At the close of the service, everyone will be given a candle to be lit during the singing of “Silent Night.”
    Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church, 433 Moraga Way (254-3422), has set its Advent Christmas Music Festival at the 9:30 a.m. service on Dec. 16 that includes the Spirit Borne, Canticle and Bell Choirs. The annual Children’s Pageant will follow at 10:45 a.m. Holy Shepherd will have Christmas Eve services at 4, 6 and 10 p.m., the last two are candlelight communion services. During most Sundays of the Thanksgiving / Advent / Christmas season, the community worships with one service at 9:30 a.m. 
    Father Nicholas Borzghol of the St. John Orthodox Church, 501 Moraga Way (258-4255) says St. John will have a Christmas party on Friday, Dec. 14., at the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church, 1700 School Street, in Moraga at 6 p.m. in the church hall.  On Dec. 24, Matins and Divine Liturgy of the Nativity of Christ is scheduled for 6 p.m. at St. John’s.  St. Mark’s Methodist Church, 451 Moraga Way (254-5965) hosts a shared meal with Filipino food, Dec. 12 at 5:30 p.m. After a telling of the Nativity Story and sing along, participants will celebrate a traditional Christmas observance from the Philippines by making star lanterns and enjoying a procession.  In that country, lanterns represent hope, goodwill and the triumph of light over darkness. At the 5 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight Celebration, guests will join in song and watch a dramatic telling of the Nativity story, closing with candlelight and “Silent Night.”  There will be a collection of new books and teddy bears for foster children.
    It’s the Presbyterian Women’s “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” Christmas Tea which commences the holiday season at the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, 49 Knox Drive, Lafayette (283-8722). There will be musical entertainment, tea sandwiches and cookies with tea.  Tickets are free, but you need to contact the church if you plant to attend. The “On Christmas Night” Christmas Concert takes place on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 4 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 9, at 2 and 5 p.m. featuring the Festival Choir and Orchestra with the centerpiece being “Gloria” by Randol Alan Bass. Free tickets are available online only at On Christmas Eve, there will be family services at 3 and 4 p.m., with traditional services at 7 and 8:30 p.m. followed by a Caroling, Candlelight Communion Service at 11 p.m.
    Santa Maria Catholic Church, 40 Santa Maria Way (254-3426) starts the season with kindergarten through fifth grade classes collecting for “Boxes of Joy” and a youth/teen project, Spirit of Giving, to give Christmas presents to families living at Contra Costa Interfaith Housing.  On Dec. 2, families will learn about and create their own advent wreaths at 11:30 a.m. in the Parish Hall with a $25 donation suggested. A Christmas Eve Children’s Mass with Children’s Choir will begin at 4 p.m. Teen Choirs, ministers from Youth Ministries and those home from college will also share talents for the Mass.  The Christmas Eve Mass featuring the Parish Choir takes place at 10 p.m. On Christmas Morning, masses at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. will celebrate the birth of Christ.
    Spokespersons for all of the churches say all are welcome to their events and services as Orindans celebrate the season of Christmas.

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