St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Main Street in Ridgefield will hold just one-morning service ― at 10 a.m. ― on Sunday, December 24, versus the usual two. Services celebrating Christmas Eve will take place at 4, 8 and 10:30 p.m.
“This year December 24 is both the Fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve,” said the Rev. Whitney Altopp, St. Stephen’s rector. “To make sure it doesn’t get short shrift, we are making the morning’s celebration of Advent 4 very special. The 10 a.m. service will present a one-act play, Everlasting Light, written for us and for our space and directed by Elizabeth Young (pictured), a playwright who lives in Newtown.”
Based on the book Walking Backward to Christmas by Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford in England, Everlasting Light tells the Christmas story through the eyes of figures relevant to Jesus’ birth. These include the three wise men, King Herod, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and earlier figures, Isaiah and Moses, as well as imagined characters like Martha, the innkeeper’s wife. The inter-generational cast ranges in age from 14 to 80, and young children will participate as angels. The congregation’s involvement includes hymn singing and prayers.
On Christmas Eve the 4 p.m. service will appeal especially to families with young children. The 8 o’clock service will have a traditional Holy Communion and music by St. Stephen’s Choir, and the 10:30 will include Christmas Lessons and Carols, with music by the choir, and Holy Communion. On Christmas Day there will be a 10 a.m. service for all ages to celebrate the birth of Christ. Children are invited to come in their pajamas and to bring their favorite toy.