Saturday, November 13, 2010

Christkindelfest: Mark Your Calendars!

Kristkindlfest, Kristkindelfest, Christkindelfest—no matter how you spell it, you’ll want to be there. Music, cookies, coffee, food, fellowship, fun, and a beautiful, German-flavored worship service to get you in the Christmas spirit. Mark your calendars now.

First, I have some music to share with you! You can watch and listen to music from Christkindelfest 2008 while you read the rest of my post.

First, here’s the Central UCC Choir singing “Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming.” That’s a good German Christmas hymn!

Central United Church of Christ—which is Jefferson City’s historic German Central Evangelical Church—sets aside a Saturday in early December to offer a German-style Christmas worship service to the community. And lots more. Do you like church suppers? Do you like cookies? I thought you did!

The date is Saturday December 4, 2010. Here’s the schedule.

9:30 to 11:00—Kaffeeklatsch and bake sale in the church gymnasium. The bake sale features German-recipe cookies, kuchen, tea rings, and stollen, along with other yummy things. The idea is: Buy some goodies to take home with you, plus a little extra to eat right now, while you sip coffee, visit, and make new friends.

(By the way, they usually have cookbooks to sell, too. In case you’re like me and can’t get enough of church-ladies cookbooks.)

11:00—German-style worship service, in the church’s sanctuary. First, if you’re not a member of Central UCC, relax!—you’re welcome to participate. If you’re a Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, or anything else, don’t worry: The United Church of Christ welcomes you as a fellow Christian! (That’s one of the reasons this denomination is called the United Church of Christ: The idea is that despite the denominations, we are all united under God.) (Hmm: that sounds kind of familiar, somehow . . .)

And even if you’re not a Christian at all, it’s okay. This service is light on the preachin’ and heavy on the music. I think we can all agree that the Christmas sentiments of peace, joy, and love are powerful and are worth celebrating, whether you think the stories are literally true or not.

This year, the choir is preparing music from a German-language mass written by Franz Gruber (who wrote the music for “Silent Night”) that features an Alpine horn (well, it will be performed on a French horn)—and it should sound very “Tyrolean.” As far as I’ve been able to tell, this mass is rarely if ever played in America; it was brought over by Central UCC’s former choir director, Carl E. Burkel, who wrote the arrangement.

There will also be a “children's time” and plenty of good Christmas songs for everyone to sing. I understand, too, that the Christkindelfest offering always goes to local charities. Please don’t hesitate to attend this—it will get you in the Christmas spirit for sure.

Here is another video for you to watch—this is also from the 2008 Christkindelfest, and the singer is Esther Seidel, a lifelong resident of the greater Jefferson City area, who learned “Silent Night” in the original German as a little girl, and has known it by heart ever since.

By the way, I was there when she sang that year, and I couldn’t help but think of my Grandma Schroeder, who is about her same vintage, and how little it took to get her to start singing, and how she remembered the German lyrics to all her old songs.

I can’t tell you how moving it was to hear Mrs. Seidel sing this song. The video gives you only a small taste of this beautiful lady’s sweet singing.

And! I’ve heard that Mrs. Seidel will perform again this year! Yes! She’s planning to sing the beloved German Christmas hymn “Vom Himmel Hoch” (“From Heaven Above to Earth I Come,” or “From Heaven High I Come to You”). It’s one of Martin Luther’s hymns!

And then . . .

12:00 (or thereabouts--after the service) to about 1:30—Lunch in the gym. They’re serving delicious Burger’s ham from Moniteau County, plus—I’m sure—a bounty of yummy church-lady-style side dishes.

1:00—Reverend Stephen H. Buchholz, pastor of Central UCC, will lead a tour of the church. He’ll describe the congregation’s 150-year history and focus on the lovely artwork, stained glass, carvings, and their symbolism in the sanctuary of this historic church.

One more YouTube link for you: It’s the Central UCC choir (under the direction of Dr. Ruth Robertson) performing the traditional German carol “Never Do Bells Ring More Sweetly.”

So: put it on your calendar right now, so you don’t forget it!

—And see you there!

Special thanks to Rene Miserez of Central United Church of Christ, who has posted several Central Church videos on YouTube. She made it possible for me to share these with you. A big exuberant Munichburg “Danke Schön” to you, Rene!

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