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Traveler finds gateway to Christmas

By Staff | Dec 18, 2017

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary A Children’s Ensemble representing St John Lutheran (Brick) Church with director Shirley Smith, were guests vocalists at the Christmas Candlelight Program at Christ Lutheran (Stone) Church. In no specific order they are Grace Childs, Madelyn Dieffenderfer, Margot Schreiber, Abram Childs, Bryce Miller and Mitch Schrieber.  

MONTGOMERY – T’was the ninth day before Christmas and a decree from the Montgomery Area Historical Society (MAHS) had gone out that all were invited to a candlelight service at the Stone Church.

In answering the call, a single solitary traveler was on the way to the annual event. Along the trek, decorations placed by residents and shop keepers were observed. These ornamentations paid no homage to the real meaning of Christmas. Instead, figures wearing top hats and another in gaudy red cloths, seemed to have high-jacked the Holy season.

Soon the exit to the historic church was recognized and the traveler turned off, proceeding a short distance to an open gate. The scenery changed once beyond the barrier. Tall blades of brown grass emerged above a small skiff of snow. In the distance, a mountain range loomed beneath an overcast sky.

Desolate was the site until a massive building came into view. There, a mass of vehicles filled the parking lot and lined each side of the roadway. As the late comer approached the church, a greeter swung open the door and offered a bulletin. The auditorium was filled as well as space in the overflow room.

After being directed to a chair and looking about, the reason for the season was confirmed. There below a lighted tree were illuminated figures of Joseph, Mary, and the Christ Child.

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary (Left to Right): Martha Huddy,  Larry Stout, Nickolas Bower, Rev. Hobart Campbell, Debbie Stout and Kaydee Miller served as narrators during the Christmas Candlelight program at Christ Lutheran (Stone) Church. The annual event, held Dec. 15, was sponsored by the Montgomery Area Historical Society.

Scriptures read by narrators told of the creation and fall of mankind, the promise to Abraham, and the genealogy of Jesus. Also identified was Gabriel, the angel who told Mary she would bare the Christ Child. Additionally, visits by shepherds and wise men were chronicled.

Readings and prayers were interspersed with music and song. Directed and accompanied by Shirley Smith, were volunteer vocalists of the West Branch Chorale. A children’s ensemble representing St. John Lutheran (Brick) Church sang, “What Can We Bring?” The answer in the song-line was, “A heart full of love.”

When the passages proclaimed the Almighty’s promise had been fulfilled, the congregation sang, “Joy to the World.” Candles distributed to each in attendance were lighted signifying the arrival of “The Light of the World.”

Since the late 1700’s, residents in the White Deer Valley and surrounding areas have gathered to celebrate Christmas. Remaining just beyond the gate of each heart, is the call to reaffirm the true meaning of Christmas.

Since 1942, Christ Lutheran Church (Stone Church) is the lone landmark remaining after the federal government took over the land building a munitions factory for the war effort.