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What truly matters

December 25, 2002

By Tom Sluis
Herald Staff Writer

Stacie McLain, secretary and youth director for the United Methodist Church in Durango, arranges poinsettias Monday for Christmas Eve services.

Despite talk of war, terrorism and an economy that struggles to rebound, area pastors will not bring the gloom and doom of contemporary events into their holiday sermons.

"It’s not the real focus of Christmas," said the Rev. Bill Postler with the First Presbyterian Church in Durango. The topic of his Christmas sermon will be the traditional story of Christ’s birth and the hope it brings. "Nothing particularly profound," Postler said.

Presbyterians emphasize what connects us all, which is that God has revealed himself through Jesus. Like many churches in Durango, the doors of the Presbyterian Church are open to everyone, Postler said. "We are Christians, not Presbyterians, Lutherans or Methodists."

At the Unity Church, the Rev. Wayne Smith said there also will be no mention of today’s strife during holiday services because it simply is not needed.

"Why create more stress?" Smith said. "We have enough to worry about."

For the Unity Church, trying to have a relaxed holiday takes on particular importance as the church was heavily damaged in a fire on Dec. 2. "It’s one ‘wholly’ mess, spelled w-h-o-l-l-y, because there certainly wasn’t anything sacred about the fire," he said.

No services are planned for Christmas Eve or Christmas, but there will be a service at Smith’s home on "the Grinch."

"As in, the Grinch who tried to take away Christmas, but couldn’t," he said. It’s an apt analogy for Unity’s experience, he said. For the Humanist Society, which advertises its meetings with "Believing it is better to grow up than to be born again," the Rev. Charlie Archibald is spending the holidays in Albuquerque, where he is a pastor at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Unitarians don’t have a particular creed or doctrine, which is why humanists are also accepted, he said. Instead, the church accepts people for their particular beliefs be they Christians, Jews or pagans which reflect the tone of the holidays overall. He called Christmas a secular holiday for most people,"

"Christmas is an eclectic holiday, it’s not a religious holiday," he said from Albuquerque.

Members of the Bahai faith also look at the holidays as a time to respect all faiths.

"Bahai’s believe that there is one god and one humanity, essentially one religion revealed through a messenger or manifestation of god such as Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Mohammed or Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Bahai faith," said Neil McHugh.

"Caring about others is the important value," he said.

Reach Staff Writer Tom Sluis at tsluis@durangoherald.com

©Copyright 2002, The Durango Herald (CO, USA)

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