Texas City’s Hopewell Baptist Church will hold its Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve worship services, which will be at 9 a.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. Dec. 31. Night watch services will start at 9 p.m. Dec. 31. All events will be at 316 S. Pine Road.

The Night Watch or Watch Night service is said to hearken back some 155 years to when those in slavery gathered to await midnight when President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would take effect. The executive order would technically free those in bondage in the Confederacy and became law on Jan. 1, 1863. For that reason, it also known as Freedom’s Eve.

Other sources trace its origins even further back to 1733 and the Moravian Church in Europe. These cite John Wesley as having popularized it as a regular religious practice which became more widespread after the Civil War.

For details, call 409-938-0173.

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La Marque’s Trinity Lutheran Church will hold its annual lessons and carols service at 10 a.m. and its candlelight communion service at 6 p.m. Sunday at 2024 12th Ave.

“Lessons and carols is similar to the ancient English/Anglican practice each Christmas season,” said the Rev. C.O. Magee. “Here the service dates back well into our 70-year history. We’ll have lots of Christmas carols as well as a moving communion.”

For details, call 409-935-6004.

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In the news: There was a less strident time when people might argue about being a Ford family or a Chevy clan, but sparks didn’t fly afterward and the body politic often agreed on a number of common agenda items. Now, according to an article by Bruce Bower at Science News, the faith of Americans has become as polarized as its Congress.

He begins by noting that conservative churches have mostly held steady while moderates have been rapidly cutting formal religious ties.

“Political liberals and moderates who already felt lukewarm toward the religion of their parents increasingly report identifying with no organized religion, particularly if the leaders of their childhood churches have taken conservative stances on social issues,” Bower wrote.

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Update: In an article in this week’s Christianity Today Magazine, author Krish Kandiah observed that the Christmas story represents something that was completely unexpected at that time. His comments fit in with some of the sermon teasers you’ll find in Our Faith this week.

“Despite his arrival being heralded by astronomical phenomena and angel choirs, for the most part his birth and life will continue as it has begun, marked by the fact that he is a stranger, unrecognized and unwelcomed as the Son of God,” he wrote. “Why does God choose to turn up in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, to a couple of nobodies, in the middle of a census, to a country in conflict?

Here is the news: God deliberately planned to turn up at the wrong time in the wrong place. God is Immanuel. God is present. God is with us. But God is also hidden, set apart, unassuming.”

Events for Faith Focus should be submitted at least two weeks in advance.

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