Holiday messages and happenings at Wilton congregations

Wilton religious leaders will preach a variety of messages this holiday season. Here are some of the messages that will be shared and events taking place at congregations in town.

Wilton Presbyterian


“This is the season in the church where we celebrate love incarnate, Emmanuel — God with us,” said Rev. Shannon White, of Wilton Presbyterian Church at 48 New Canaan Road.

“This is the season that we are reminded that no matter where we find ourselves — in the place of the highest of highs or the lowest of lows — God comes to us where we are and pledges to love and stay with us through the ups and downs of our lives.”

It extends beyond that, said White.

“The profound love and hope that God shows us in this season compels us, with great humility, to show that same love for others — whether they are in the highest of highs or the lowest of lows of their lives,” she said.

“That love may be easy to show to those who are in joyous places, but it may be much more of a challenge to stay and love those in difficult places, such as in Aleppo, or in angry protests, or in the midst of a long illness.”

Even there, she said, “God is present and brings light and life.”

On Sunday, Dec. 18, the Wilton Presbyterian Church at 48 New Canaan Road held a family worship and Christmas pageant, followed by a family Christmas celebration of lunch, crafts and carols.

On Christmas Eve, there will be a family candlelight service, with a sermon led by White, at 4 p.m. in the sanctuary.

Later that evening, a candlelight service of lessons and carols and preaching from White will kick off with prelude music at 8:45 p.m., followed by worship in the sanctuary at 9.

Christmas Day will entail coffee at 9:45 a.m., followed by a 10 a.m. Christmas service in the sanctuary.

Information: wiltonpresbyterian.org, 203-762-5514.

Our Lady of Fatima


Father Reggie Norman, of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church at 229 Danbury Road, will deliver a Christmas Homily on peace and joy.

When the angels announced to the shepherds that a savior was born, Norman said, “they called this ‘news of great joy,’ since this savior was going to bring ‘peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”

The peace that Christ brings is the source of that joy, he said, and the two “always go together” because “without peace, there is no joy.”

“Joy is the emotion we feel when we come into the possession of good things, but unless we have peace, we cannot really have possession of anything,” said Norman.

“Without peace, there is conflict, and conflict means that someone is trying to take away the good things we possess. That aggression causes turbulence, instability — the opposite of peace.”

Norman said he decided to focus his Christmas message on peace and joy because he wants people to “celebrate this season with a sense of calmness and to not allow the headline to ruin this festive season.”

On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, Our Lady of Fatima will hold an evening mass at 7:30, as well as a children's mass at 4 and a youth mass at 6.

A Christmas prelude by the adult choir will also take place at 11:30, followed by a midnight mass.

On Christmas Day, Dec. 25, masses will be held at 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon.

Information: olfwilton.org, 203-762-3928.

Hope Church


Christmas is a month-long celebration at Hope Evangelical Free Church, said Rev. David Gish.

December events at the 240 Wolfpit Road church include a women’s Christmas brunch, Christmas day-camp for kids, gift outreach to children with parents in prison, children’s Christmas pageant, and services and messages each week to prepare for Christmas.

To celebrate the last stage of Advent, Hope Church will hold a 5 p.m. service on Christmas Eve, complete with a family reading, candle-lighting and choir performance,.

Children will also act out the Christmas story and congregation members will sing Christmas carols.

Gish said he will preach about the importance of not missing the true meaning of Christmas during the service and “look at how easy it is to celebrate the holiday but miss God in the midst of it.”

“Looking at Christ birth narrative in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, we will see how the innkeeper and King Herod both missed Christmas because they were too full for Christ and to prideful to acknowledge Him,” said Gish.

“On the other hand, Mary and Joseph didn’t miss what God was doing in bringing Jesus into the world through them. Likewise, the shepherds participated in the first Christmas by trusting in God and worshipping God, as we can today.”

Open to all community members, the Christmas Eve service will “blend the traditional with the contemporary,” said Gish, and offer “something for the whole family.”

On Christmas Day, the church will gather for worship at 10 a.m. to “celebrate God as the foundation of Christmas and of our lives, with carol-singing and a message on ‘Why Wise Men Still Seek Him,’” said Gish.

“We will follow the journey of the Magi in seeking Jesus and look at how we can still seek Him today as one of the wisest things we can do in life,” he said.

“God has promised us that if we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him, and out of all the things we pursue in our lives, only God can fill the longing in our souls and be the unshakeable foundation to build our lives on.”

Members of the Fairfield County Chinese Community Church, 240 Wolfpitt Road, will join Hope Church on Christmas and Gish’s message will be translated into Mandarin.

Information: hopechurchct.org, 203-762-0706.

Wilton Congregational


Throughout the holiday season, Rev. Anne Coffman, of the Wilton Congregational Church at 70 Ridgefield Road, said she will be “preaching on God’s blessings of hope, peace, joy, and love.”

On Christmas Eve, the congregational church will have two services — a child-focused and family-friendly service at 4 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. candlelight service.

On Christmas morning, the church will have a pajama worship at 10 a.m.

“Everyone is welcome to wear their pajamas or comfy clothes and bring their coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to this service,” said Coffman. “It will be short and great for families.”

Information: wiltoncongregational.org, 203-762-5591.

St. Matthew’s


On Christmas Eve, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church at 36 New Canaan Road will have an instrument and choral prelude at 3:45, followed by a Christmas pageant — during which children will tell the story of Christ's birth — and Holy Eucharist at 4.

Later that evening, the church will have a festive music prelude at 10, followed by another Holy Eucharist at 10:30.

On Dec. 25, the church will have a Christmas Day service at 10 a.m.

Information: stmatthewswilton.org, 203-762-7400.

Zion’s Hill


On Sunday, Dec. 18, Rev. Peggy Fabrizio at Zion’s Hill United Methodist Church, 470 Danbury Road, preached about “trusting God in all of our circumstances,” but will not be preaching sermons on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

“We are doing Lessons and Carols where we read the Christmas story in the scriptures and sing the story in Christmas carols,” she said.

Information: zionshillmethodist.org, 203-762-9890.

Temple B'nai Chaim


Hanukkah — which begins the evening of Saturday, Dec. 24, and ends Sunday, Jan. 1 — “hasn't always been a big holiday in the Jewish tradition,” said Rabbi Rachel Bearman, of Temple B’nai Chaim at 82 Portland Avenue in Georgetown.

“In American Judaism, there has been more emphasis placed on it because of its proximity to Christmas,” she said, but Hanukkah isn’t a big “preaching” holiday for Temple B’nai Chaim because most of the holiday's celebration happens at home with families.

Still, said Bearman, the temple celebrates Hanukkah in a couple of ways.

During religious school last weekend, Bearman said, “we framed the celebration around the social justice theme of our being responsible for shining light in dark places.”

“We talked about how when the ‘helper’ candle — the shamash — lights the other candles, in the Hanukkiah, her light isn't diminished,” she said.

“We decided as a school that each of us would be a shamash and do our best to bring more light into this world.”

On Friday, Dec. 30, people will bring menorahs to Temple B’nai Chaim for its Shabbat service, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“We will begin the service by reciting the Hanukkah blessings and lighting our individual menorahs as a [Temple B’nai Chaim] family,’ said Bearman.

“In our Shabbat service, we will weave in prayers and readings that address the themes of light and miracles.”

Traditional Hanukkah food will be served after the service, which, Bearman said, will include jelly donuts.

Information: templebnaichaim.org, 203-544-8695.