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Christmas at Mountain Life Church

One of my favorite memories of Christmas at Mountain Life Church is shortly after we moved to Park City, over 17 years ago. We were attending the Christmas Eve Candlelight service with our twins, who were probably first or second graders at the time. For years our kids had been asking to hold their own candle at the Christmas Eve service. My husband and I had finally deemed them old enough to not burn down the church by undertaking such a huge responsibility. As we were singing Silent Night, the sanctuary awash in the glow of candles, I glanced down at my son and daughter, their little faces radiant in the candlelight, and what did I see? Each of them holding onto their respective candles for dear life and staring at the flame with complete and utter focus. So much so that they weren’t even singing! It is a memory that I treasure each Christmas Eve as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, with our now 22-year-olds.

Christmas at Mountain Life Church isn’t just about the iconic candlelight service. Rather, it is a month of festivities designed to remind us of the reason for the season. Read on to learn all the things that our church, nestled in the shadow of the Wasatch mountains, does to ring in the Christmas holiday.
Christmas Dinner in a Bag
After living with COVID-19 for almost two years, the church staff decided to create a new outreach project this holiday season. The purpose was twofold: serve the greater Park City community, including Kamas and Heber, while giving people in our congregation a chance to serve. Over 120 people signed up to assemble Christmas Dinners in a Bag – a reusable grocery bag with the Mountain Life logo that included canned goods and a voucher for a $15 turkey or ham.
“The excitement that filled the room and the energy in the room was priceless,” says Laura Behnke, Mountain Life’s Care and Connections Director. “Every generation was represented, including families and friends from our Latino ministry and youth ministry. Everyone just chipped in and helped.” The event, which included Christmas carols and pizza for the volunteers, resulted in 1,000 Christmas Dinners in a Bag, some of which were given to local schools, the Christian Center of Park City, apartment complexes, businesses, and the Senior Center.
The remaining bags are at the church and people are encouraged to pick one up to bless someone this Christmas season. Everyone in the community is welcome to distribute a bag. You do not need to be part of the Mountain Life family. Bags can be picked up at the church Tuesdays through Thursdays from 9A-1P and Sundays from 9A–12P. Or you can email Laura Behnke if those times don’t work for you.
Women’s Christmas Dessert
Another venue where attendees were encouraged to take a Christmas Dinner in a Bag with them was at the end of the annual Women’s Christmas Dessert at Mountain Life. This is one of the church’s most popular events and after not offering it last year because of the pandemic, this year’s dessert was even more special.
The church looked like the inside of a Christmas snow globe. Decorations adorned the lobby, hundreds of lights were strung across the sanctuary where the event was held, and multiple Christmas trees decked the stage. While men in bowties served the 190 women dressed in their Christmas finest, attendees enjoyed luscious carrot cake, lemon tart or flourless chocolate cake provided by Park City Desserts. The local catering company is known for healthy desserts suited to a variety of dietary needs including gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free options. The guest speaker, Kristin Cazana, National Executive Director of Becoming Like Christ Bible Study, gave an inspirational speech while the women enjoyed easy conversation at tables decorated with festive dinnerware and centerpieces.
Latino Christmas Celebration
One new event that Mountain Life is offering this Christmas season is a Latino Christmas Celebration on Saturday, December 18 at 6:30P. The event, which is open to the public and both English or Spanish-speaking attendees, is the inspiration of Ruben Navarrete, Mountain Life’s Latino Ministry Pastor. The vision for the program, “Let’s Celebrate the Savior’s Birth,” takes participants from the manger to the cross.

“I believe if we talk about Christmas without talking about the cross, it’s an incomplete message,” says Ruben. His sermon will focus on how Jesus was born in a manger to go to the cross for our salvation. While the celebration will be in Spanish, Ruben had the creative idea to hire mimes who will be performing gestures accompanied by music so that English speaking attendees can follow along. Dessert will follow the program with a time of fellowship in the lobby of the church.

The musical background for the mimes is “What You Say of Me” by Lauren Daigle. “The song talks about our identity in Christ,” says Ruben. “It is the perfect fit for the message and the whole celebration.”

Singles Christmas Party
Another new event, open to anyone, is the Singles Christmas Party hosted by Laura Behnke on December 17 from 6:30–8:30P at the church. “We understand that some people moved to Park City and don’t have family nearby,” reflects Laura. “And that for some Christmas is a joyous time and for others it can be very painful.”

Singles of all ages and kids are welcome. Attendees are asked to bring a gift of under $10 or rewrap an existing gift for a true white elephant exchange. Please RSVP in advance to Laura.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services
The big crescendo to Mountain Life Church’s Christmas celebrations are the Christmas Eve Candlelight Services on December 24 at 3:00 | 4:30 | 6:15 | 7:45P. Since our Christmas Eve services fill up quickly, attendees are encouraged to arrive early for best seating.

New this year, parents of young children will have the option of having their kids attend the service in the sanctuary or accompanying their children to the Winter Wonderloft upstairs. The brainchild of Cullen Wood, our Children’s Ministry Director, the Winter Wonderloft gives parents the opportunity to spread out with their kids in a more relaxed environment, while the service is streamed on a screen. Quiet activities along with a hot chocolate bar, make this a nice alternative for kids who don’t want to be confined to a chair during the entire service. Please note that this is not a drop-off area, but an alternative location for parents to worship with their kids.

For those not comfortable attending church in person this year, the 4:30P service will be livestreamed on Mountain Life’s website and on YouTube and Facebook. Our family participated in the online Christmas Eve service last year and I had candles for each of us so that we could have our own candlelight service at home. My kids didn’t hold onto their candles with a death grip and laser focus as they did all those years ago. However, they did have the foresight to cut pieces of paper into squares so that we could poke the candles through the paper to catch any wax that dripped. Proving that they have officially become smarter than me.

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