Reporting Tim Jimenez
By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Christmas in Old City featured two services that highlighted the humble beginnings of Christmas.
Historic Christ Church at 20 North American Street is celebrating its 316th Christmas. Traditionally, they hold a Christmas Eve family service in the evening and tailor it for the congregation’s youngest members.
“They can have church on their level,” explained Rev. Timothy Safford. “They don’t have to behave or be good and we hope that it imparts a little message to them of where Christmas comes from.”
Proud parents and family looked on as the children dressed as shepherds, angels, stars and wise men walked down the aisle to join the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph at the front of the church.
“It means light. Like a bright light for Jesus,” described seven-year-old Corrine, who was dressed as one of the gold stars.
Every year baby Jesus is played by the last born child of the church. This year’s honors went to six-month-old Brigid McAteer. Brigid may not remember her time in the spotlight for her very first Christmas. However, her proud parents Joe and Anne, playing the role of Joseph and Mary, said the memories will live on.
“We’ll have plenty of pictures. We’ll remember it for a very long time,” Joe McAteer said.
A few blocks away at 4th and Race, Old First Reformed United Church of Christ held its annual live nativity scene in the cold of night. A crowd gathered outside of the church, singing traditional Christmas hymns in front of a stable scene. Fake animals joined the model Holy Family on display leading up to Christmas Eve. However, they were replaced with real animals and people on Saturday night.
“All the sheep, lambs, donkeys. It’s really cool,” said 9-year-old Devon.
The cold night did not dampen many spirits in the crowd, which consisted of many first-time visitors, onlookers, or families who said the live nativity had become a holiday staple. They listened as Rev. Michael Caine and others read bible passages and reminded them about why they were there.
“It makes you feel like it’s really Christmas,” said Martina from Germantown. “We love hearing the word of God and singing the songs. Coming here centers you. It really makes you remember what Christmas is all about.”