BANGOR, Maine — The Rev. Jerry Mick urged worshippers to show gratitude for Christ’s sacrifices for them on the eve of the celebration of his birth.
“My fellow Christians, let me challenge you on this Christmas Eve. Are you grateful for what Jesus Christ has done for you?” the senior pastor of Bangor Baptist Church said Saturday afternoon.
The service was one of two held Saturday afternoon in the church on outer Broadway. Mick estimated that 550 people attended. He anticipated close to the same number of worshippers would attend the 5 p.m. service.
Most churches, regardless of their denomination, scheduled a service on Christmas Eve. Church attendance increases during the Christmas and Easter seasons, the two most important Christian holidays of the year.
Mick did not choose a traditional Christmas Bible story for his short Christmas Eve devotional. Instead, he chose Luke 7:11-19, which tells the story of Christ healing 10 lepers. Just one of the lepers returned to show his gratitude for having been cured.
“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice, glorified God,” verses 15 and 16 say, “and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks.”
The pastor urged members of his flock to make a list of the things for which they are grateful, make an effort to show their gratitude and “make a lot of noise” when they express their gratefulness.
“You and I should get into the habit of saying ‘thank you’ to God,” Mick said. “Make your ‘thank you’ big. Let God know that we are thankful by our actions. Christmas is all about God coming to live among us.”
As he spoke, girls dressed in red velvet dresses trimmed in lace and boys outfitted in green vests, white shirts and red bow ties squirmed in their parents’ laps, most likely eager for Christmas morning and the culmination of the secular side of the season.
Adam Bond of Greenbush might have been the youngest worshipper at the service. Born on Nov. 7, he will be 8 weeks old on Monday. He spent nearly the entire service in the arms of his father, Jason Bond.
The infant’s mother, Melonie Bond, was making sure his older brothers, Andrew Bond, 3, and Allen Bond, 6, were behaving and focusing on baby Jesus instead of Santa Claus.
When asked what she was grateful for this Christmas, Melonie Bond pointed to her brood and replied, “This right here.”