Dec 272011
 

We had a most memorable Christmas this year as a family, having family time together _and_ family time with the Family of God, as we took an OC Christmas tour all over Orange County to attend Christmas week worship services at a total of 10 churches. (Couldn’t quite make it to 11, as originally proposed; kept the family a priority and not the events.) I’m happy that my family (wife and 14-year-old son) could enjoy these times with me – I know that many people don’t enjoy so many church worship services as I do (if any at all). Here’s my video about the OC Christmas Tour, with on-site debriefs compiled together into one:

Thanks to all the staff and volunteers at each of the 10 churches for celebrating Jesus’ birth and making our Christmas all the merrier:

  1. Harvest OC, Irvine
  2. Eastside Christian Church, Fullerton
  3. Friends Church, Yorba Linda
  4. NewSong Church, Irvine
  5. ROCKHARBOR, Costa Mesa
  6. Saddleback Church, Lake Forest
  7. St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach
  8. Mariners Church, Irvine
  9. Kingsfield Church, Aliso Viejo
  10. Coast Hills Church, Aliso Viejo

   
While I won’t name any one particular church service as a favorite or as the best, I will list these highlights and comments:

  • Biggest Surprise: big-band-style concert band at Friends Church
  • Most creative production: shadow-puppets retelling the Big Story at ROCKHARBOR (Journey of Joy video) [probably over 1,000 pieces cut-out & painted and every performance live!]
  • Best Christmas gift: family portrait photo-shoot at Eastside Christian Church
  • No more room in the inn (full-capacity crowds): Harvest OC, ROCKHARBOR, Saddleback Church, Mariners Church
  • The more popular Christmas songs: Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High, Joy to the World, O Holy Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • Don’t recall hearing: Away in a Manger, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Deck the Halls, Jingle Bell Rock
  • Most consistently-presented theme: Eastside Christian Church [paper-mache Christmas trees and paper snowball as physical prop for responding to sermon to "let go"]
  • Most comfortable seating: Friends Church, Coast Hills Church
  • Screen with the widest aspect-ratio: Kingsfield Church
  • What we didn’t see: a Gospel Choir, Handel’s Messiah, Christmas musical cantata, live Nativity with live animals, drama/skit
  • Quietest worship time: late-night 11pm worship in the chapel at Mariners Church (very cool to hear the chapel bells ring at midnight of Christmas)
  • Best-dressed choir: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (actually, the only choir we saw, and they sounded great!)
  • Children singing: Eastside Christian Church, NewSong Church


And the memories that stay with me about the OC Christmas Tour 2011 and a few learnings about churches: Christmas has inspired people all walks of life, not just churches and those who follow Jesus, most obviously through the arts and movies. We love a wide variety of expressions of worship in different churches. Churches really do produce their best worship services for Christmas, and that takes a ton of planning, preparation, and volunteers. It takes a lot of planning of logistics to get from one church to the next — gotta tip your hat to itinerant speakers/preachers who travel a lot. I can sympathize with those who go to church for the first time (or rarely), and how being in a strange place not knowing where to go or what to do is quite daunting.

And, for us, you can never get too much of Christmas!

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