Elgin church stages 'Amazing Grace' musical
The seasonal concerts and special church programs are mostly behind us for this year, but if you enjoy a good Christmas musical, you can still catch "Amazing Grace" Sunday, Dec. 19, at Northwest Bible Baptist Church, 9N889 Nesler Road, Elgin.
Backed by a 70-voice adult choir and a children's ensemble, the musical tells a Christmas tale of lavish grace for a man who would rather forget his past than face it.
Stranded over the holidays in the town where years earlier he was the drunken driver in an accident that killed his friend, the man learns just how completely he has been forgiven.
The program features special arrangements of traditional Christmas music and a majestic rendition of hymns "And Can It Be" and "Amazing Grace."
"It's a nice combination of choir music and drama," said the Rev. Ken Anderson, associate pastor.
Northwest Bible Baptist mounts a big Christmas production every year, he said.
"It brings attention back to Jesus and, in this case, his amazing grace," Anderson said. "It was because of God's amazing grace that Jesus came into the world. We're trying to make sure that people pay attention to Jesus during Christmastime instead of all the commercialism."
The program is free and begins at 5:15 p.m., preceding the church's regular Sunday evening service at 7 p.m.
Christmas classic: Gian Carlo Menotti's Christmas classic, "Amahl and the Night Visitors," has been playing this month at a church in Crystal Lake and still has two shows remaining for this weekend.
The one-act opera, a story of a poor family visited by three kings, will be presented Friday, Dec. 17, and Saturday, Dec. 18, at First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake, 461 Pierson St.
Toni Gambini and her son, Ryan Tucker, will perform as mother and son at the 8 p.m. show Saturday. Those roles will be filled by Jennifer Streit and Will Restrepo at the 8 p.m. performance Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets cost $10 for adults in advance from the church office or $11 online at www.fcc-cl.org; free for kids 12 and younger. For details, call (815) 459-6010 or visit www.fcc-cl.org.
Live Nativity scene: Another holiday idea for this weekend is the live Nativity scene and petting zoo from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19, at Epworth United Methodist Church in Elgin.
The story of Jesus' birth will be read and acted out every 15 minutes. Hands-on activities for families will be offered inside, along with a spaghetti dinner. Everything is free, but donations for the dinner would be appreciated.
Epworth is on the northwest corner of Randall Road and Highland Avenue.
No plans for Dec. 25? In the spirit of the holidays, Lazarus House is extending a warm invitation to the entire Tri-County community for its annual Christmas brunch at noon on Christmas Day at St. Charles Free Methodist Church, 214 Walnut St.
Although Lazarus House is a Christian ministry for the homeless and people at-risk of homelessness, the meal is for everyone, said Executive Director Darlene Marcusson.
"It's a way to add meaning to the holiday, and so many people come to this event for just that reason," Marcusson said.
Maybe their families are far away; maybe they're looking to do something different or more focused on others. Or maybe, like a woman Marcusson met at the Christmas brunch four years ago, they're looking for a little holiday cheer.
Recently widowed, the woman hadn't felt much like celebrating at first, but decided it might be good to be with others for the holiday. She brought her collegiate daughters to the Lazarus meal and recently told Marcusson, "I count that day as the day it all turned around for me."
"She began to appreciate her life again," Marcusson said. "It really impacted me. This is a huge undertaking, but I don't care what it takes, we have to do this. It's a gift to the community."
The meal is potluck for volunteers who are able to contribute an entree, side dish or appetizer in a disposable container between 11:30 a.m. and noon.
If you're planning to participate, Lazarus House would appreciate an e-mail at email@example.com or a phone call at (630) 587-2144.
And, if you've had enough already with the holiday cooking and baking, a cash donation would be a great way to make sure there's plenty of food to go around.
Pingree Grove service: Fox Valley Church, comfortably at home in its own building in West Dundee, is trying a different kind of Christmas outreach this year a candlelight Christmas Eve service at a Pingree Grove school.
"We have a pastor who lives in the community there," writes Executive Director Karen Schultz, "and we want to serve the community, so we thought a Christmas Eve service could be a beginning.
"We have just sent out a mailing inviting folks, and we will be handing out Christmas music CDs as gift invitations," she said.
Very creative, don't you think? The service starts at 4:30 p.m. at Cambridge Lakes Charter School, 880 Wester Blvd.
Blue Christmas: Churches across the Fox Valley again will host "Blue Christmas" services for people who are grieving and find the holidays to be anything but happy.
There are probably others, but here are two that have hit my radar:
• 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, at First Congregational Church, 461 Pierson St., Crystal Lake.
• 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22, at First Congregational Church of Huntley, 11628 E. Main St.
"In the Spirit" covers churches and synagogues in the Fox Valley area; contact firstname.lastname@example.org to submit information or ideas for upcoming columns.