OSSINING, N.Y. Local religious leaders say Christmas is at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is a time for people to come home to family and to celebrate newness.
"Christmas and Easter are the two main events in the calendar of history concerning our Lord Jesus Christ," said Reverend Gordon Anderson of Ossining's First Baptist Church. "Christmas is truly at the heart of the gospel and it has been for centuries."
First Baptist Church holds a candlelight service at 7 p.m on Christmas Eve with organ music and lights surrounding a manger on the stage.
Christmas is not the holiest holiday of the year for Christians, but it is the most joyful, said Reverend Tim Ives of the Scarborough Presbyterian Church in Briarcliff.
"Christmas means being together in the spirit of Christ," Ives said. "It's my favorite because what could be better than Christmas? It's just brings a whole lot of warm memories for me and it reminds me that I'm still a kid."
Scarborough Presbyterian Church will be holding a Christmas Eve children's pageant and service at 5:30 p.m.
At the First Presbyterian Church of Ossining, Reverend Lynda Clements said Chirstmas is a time for families and church to celebrate the birth of Jesus together.
"We celebrate Jesus' birth and all the good things that God does for us," Clements said. "Sermons are usually about newness and new birth, about the light shining in the darkness in the broken world that we live in, and the opportunity for us as followers of Jesus to make a difference."
First Presbyterian Church will be holding a bilingual English/Spanish candlelight service on Christmas Eve at 7:30 p.m.
Sister Eileen Finnerty of St. Ann's Church in Ossining said there is a lot of commercialism around the Christmas holiday, but for Catholics, Christmas is a time to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.
"Jesus was given to us as a special gift from God and Christmas is a time to celebrate the life and love of Jesus with many kinds of gift giving," Finnerty said. "It's a time when we come together to pray and celebrate at church."
St. Ann's will be holding a 5 p.m. family mass on Christmas Eve with children dressed up as angels and shepherds. There will also be a 7:30 p.m. Spanish mass and a "midnight" mass at 10 p.m.
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