Yule traditions deep rooted

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PASADENA – It was an innocent mistake the year the Rev. Canon Michael Bamberger did not use “O Come All Ye Faithful” as the entrance hymn during Christmas services. Innocent, but it caused a stir. Bamberger quickly discovered the importance of the carol’s placement at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Sierra Madre. Phones rang with reminders from parishioners for weeks after the holiday, he said. “It was as if the world ended,” he said. “I heard about it for weeks; calls, disappointment, people saying, `It just wasn’t quite the same.”‘ Bamberger, like other clergy members, says that Christmas traditions are forged in the memories of past celebrations. And some can never be changed. In a year when some churches are bucking tradition by canceling services on Christmas day – so people can spend time with family – other pastors say traditions must be honored. “Christmas is a time when there’s an awful lot of religious and emotional attachment,” Bamberger said. “You can add new stuff, but you better be careful taking away stuff.” Local clergy from mainline denominations say that Christmas traditions, although they might seem unimportant, build community in their congregations through shared experience and a connection to family memories. For regulars, the traditions are almost as important as the holiday itself. And even visitors who only attend churches during Christmas or Easter have strong feelings and expectations, pastors said. The clergy, which often move between congregations, discover the treasured traditions quickly. The Rev. Mark Kliewer came to Westminster Presbyterian Church of Temple City in November, so he’s still learning the members’ preferences. So far, Kliewer’s desire to start singing Christmas carols in early December was met with praise. He was told the previous pastor waited until Christmas, to the disappointment of many. Candlelight is an essential aspect of many Christmas services, though it must be handled with care. Terry Tuvey Allen, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Pasadena still remembers the time her brother set the advent wreath on fire. It was the 1950s and Allen was a toddler. Her older brother was serving as an acolyte and somehow ignited the wreath. The older men jumped from their seats and “stomped it down,” she said. The service ended. Allen said the first year she was at Trinity she considered leaving out the candlelight ceremony. She was told, “Don’t even think about it,” by her worship and music committee. “I think people would say it just didn’t feel like Christmas if we didn’t sing `Silent Night’ and light candles,” Allen said. The tradition goes back more than a century to the Norwegian, Swedish and German roots of the denomination, Allen said. But it’s not just a historical link. The tradition is alive in “the collective memory of Christmas that we all have,” Allen said. “They’re touching their roots,” she said. “It’s so beautiful and the church is dark and all the lights. People calm down for a minute. They have a sense of peace about them and a sense of awe and mystery and that there really is more to life than what we think about all year. That pause gives space to the sacred.” Not all traditions carry such emotional sentiment. Some are just fun, like at Christ the Shepherd Lutheran Church in Altadena, where the congregation calls out requests to the organist at the Christmas day service. The all-request Christmas worship is unique and suits the style of the congregation, said Pastor John Kauffman. The church has about 60 in attendance on a given Sunday, an almost equal mix of Caucasians and African Americans, with about 10percent being gay or lesbian, he said. There are former Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans – people who like gospel music and those who do not. “We really try to do patchwork worship,” Kauffman said of the Christmas service. “It depends on who’s here and who raises their hand first when we take requests.” [email protected] (626)578-6300, Ext.4461last_img

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