The true meaning of Christmas, complete with the sights and sounds of the holidays, is at the center of a community service coming to a Pauls Valley church.
It's a candlelight communion service for the whole community set for Christmas Eve.
With anyone and everyone invited to come, the service is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 24 at the First United Methodist Church, 401 North Willow.
“This will be a traditional Christmas Eve service,” said Pastor Diana Pruitt.
“We'll have carolers, music and bells. The service will end with 'Silent Night' by candlelight.”
Pruitt adds this community service is a great way to reflect on Christmas and the real reason it's celebrated.
“It's a wonderful time for family to come and remember the true reason of what the Christmas celebration is really about,” she said.
“It's a time to remember hope in the midst of the difficult times back then. And now we celebrate a gift that was given that night. We can refocus on the grace of the gift given to us.
“It's a very moving time because we're refocusing on the incredible gift of love that God has given to us through Jesus.”
Even earlier that same day is an annual Christmas Eve lunch again hosted by the Pauls Valley Church of Christ.
A two-hour stretch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 24 is the time for the community lunch at the local church located at 1509 West Grant.
“Anybody in the community is invited to come out and join us for this lunch,” said Belinda Hunt of the church.
“We've done it for several years, and it's paid for by donations from our church members.”
Typically the church provides more than 300 meals for this annual lunch, which features a traditional holiday meal with ham, veggies and donated desserts from Field's Pies.
“We do have a lot of the same people come out every year and stay for the whole time and just visit,” Hunt adds.
“It's a great time for fellowship, and it's very rewarding for us. I think it's even more rewarding for us at the church.”
The event does include take-out meals as volunteers will deliver meals to the Pauls Valley Samaritans food pantry, which then gets them to seniors and others who may be homebound, inmates in county jail and local first responders.