Take this quiz: On Dec. 26 the Christmas tree is down and ready for recycling? The 12 days of Christmas were the 12 last shopping days before Christmas? The stores have finally stopped playing the endless loops of Christmas music? All that’s left of Christmas is the stack of bills?
If your answer was “yes” to those questions, you’re out of synch with the season! In the western church’s calendar Christmas begins on Dec. 25 and runs through Jan. 5 — hence the 12 days of Christmas. Dec. 26 is the day of St. Stephen, deacon of the early church, proprietor of its soup kitchen and the first martyr (like so many martyrs, he just couldn’t keep good news to himself).
At St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in El Dorado Hills we’re going to continue the Christmas celebration with a Sunday morning Festival of Lessons and Carols at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 26. This will be a gift of music offered as a gift to congregation and community by the Rev. Ronald Rentner, pastor of St. Stephen’s, and his wife Vonnie, a trained church organist.
Carols familiar and unusual will be sung by the congregation, introduced by preludes and settings composed by contemporary musicians. Pastor Rentner will offer a brief history of each hymn tune and text. Parishioners and people from the community are invited to sing the carols in new ways, and to hear the interesting and inspiring stories behind them. Dress will be casual, and a regular offering will be received.
Of course, Christmas Eve will feature a candlelight eucharist with special music at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 24. Instruments will include organ, harp, chimes, flute, violin and more. Jan. 2 will feature one worship time at 10:30 a.m. On all other Sundays worship is in two styles, 8:30 a.m. (traditional) and 10:30 a.m. (contemporary). St. Stephen’s is located at the corner of El Dorado Hills Blvd. and Olson Lane.