Christmas Eve Service at the Lutheran Church

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, December 24, 1913:  Went to Watsontown this morning with Pa on the big wagon. This trip finished my Xmas shopping.

Ruth and I went up to McEwensville this evening to attend the Christmas services in the Lutheran Church. Was pretty dark coming home. Discovered on the way that I had left my umbrella behind me. Hope I get it again.

Messiah Lutheran Church, McEwensville
Messiah Lutheran Church, McEwensville

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma generally attended the Baptist Church, but Messiah Lutheran Church in McEwensville apparently held a Christmas Eve service each year that community members attended. Grandma also attended the Christmas Eve services at the Lutheran Church in 1911.

(An aside: Grandma’s future husband, Raymond Swartz, attended Messiah Lutheran Church—though he and Grandma weren’t yet an item when this diary entry was written.)

Christmas is a time for memories. I’m going to reprint part of the post that I did on Christmas Eve, 2011 below. It’s equally relevant this year, and I thought that you might enjoy reading (or rereading) it.


When I was a child I regularly went to candlelight services at Messiah Lutheran Church  — the same church Grandma attended on Christmas Eve a hundred years ago.  I wonder if the services have changed much over the years.

In the middle part of the last century, I remember singing wonderful old-time carols at the candlelight service —We Three Kings, Joy to the World, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels,  . .. . ..

We’d end with Silent Night after all of the lights had been extinguished except for the candles we were lighting.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

I don’t know why, but I have strong memories of one year when an elderly woman didn’t extinguish her candle at the end of the service, and took the flickering light out into the cold night.

I remember asking my mother why the woman didn’t follow the directions—and my mother said that the old lady was remembering Christmas’s from long ago and that we should let her be.  I looked at the woman and could see how happy she looked as her face was illuminated by the flickering light.

I hope that I have equally wonderful memories of Christamases past when I am her age.

24 thoughts on “Christmas Eve Service at the Lutheran Church

  1. Aw….I hadn’t read your previous Christmas post. That’s such a sweet memory. Our parents don’t realize how sometimes the words they say to us stay with us forever.
    Merry Christmas!

  2. Merry Christmas. Reminded me of going to our country church services for midnight mass as a kid. My great-grandparents were one of the 7 founding families of little St. Patrick Church. It is still going strong. Going back there Saturday for our family potluck in the community center.

    1. I’m not sure when they first met, but she knew him for a long time before they married. They both were in the same high school graduating class, but she was 3 1/2 years older. I think that he skipped several grades–and that she just thought of him as a little kid at the time she writing the diary. One of the things that seems most strange about the diary to me is that she never mentions her future husband in the diary–when she obviously knew him.

      1. Maybe she felt he wasn’t worth mentioning at the time? Remember your post where a kid was hired on the farm? The one who just left for whatever reason? Wouldn’t it be funny if that was him?!

  3. Sheryl, I so enjoy your blog, and I read it every day first thing after I shut my alarm off and before I get up. Your thoughts and memories are a wonderful compliment to the diary entries. Thank you so much for posting, and I hope you have a good Christmas. It’ll be hard without your Dad, but I hope you seek comfort from those you love around you. Best wishes–

    1. Jane–Thank you for the note. It means a lot to me that you enjoy reading this. Christmas is different without Dad, but I’m looking forward to my children arriving home later tonight. Merry Christmas!

  4. ” I hope that I have equally wonderful memories of Christamases past when I am her age”

    All I can say to that is Amen.

    I hope everyone has a merry Christmas that will be a happy memory in years to come.

  5. The service sounds beautiful – and so like Christmas Eve in my little Lutheran church in Connecticut. (Before I moved to Minnesota, where the churches are huge.)

    And yes, at my age I have wonderful memories of Christmases past. Different now, but still a wonderful time of year.

  6. Not to worry hon, I’m pretty sure you’ll have lots awesome Christmas memories Sheryl. One of the few benefits of getting older, people cut you some slack when it comes to rules, Ha. Hope your Christmas was full of fun and you got spoilt to pieces. Hugs K

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