Local clergy deliver Christmas messages

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 11:14 p.m. CDT
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(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
St. John the Baptist is one of the oldest parishes in the Diocese of Rockford.  The present church was completed in 1902 and renovated in 1978 to its present form.  In 1984, the present church building was honored with Landmark status by the McHenry County Historical Society.

Rev. John Dillon sees profound potential in every child he baptizes. During this year’s Christmas sermon, he spins that vision toward a theme of the interconnectivity of humanity.

Clergy across the county deliver their sermons to some of their biggest services of the year on Christmas and Christmas Eve. Centering their talks on the birth and gift of Christ, pastors will try to bring their messages to people with their own experiences or, for some, by tying in major events from the past year.

Dillon, of Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, will do so by starting with the potential in every young child.

“Every child changes their family and has the potential to change the world, good or bad,” he said.

Dillon said he varies his holiday sermon themes from year to year, but makes sure he’s providing an inspirational message rather than trying to teach a deeper understanding of scripture.

At least half of the congregation, Dillon estimates, will settle in at his church for the first time all year.

“You have to communicate in a way that is open to outsiders,” he said.

Dillon expected between 500 and 700 people between the church’s four Christmas Eve services.

At The Church of Holy Apostles, a Catholic church in McHenry, Fr. Paul White expects about 3,000 people during Christmas Masses, compared to about 2,000 on a typical weekend.

White said he’s taking his lead this year from Pope Francis because of all the strides he’s made for the Catholic Church. White said the Pope’s engagement with people – washing the feet of prisoners, visiting the poor and holding children – has had a strong impact bringing those who’ve been marginalized back to Catholicism.

“That’s what people desperately want that is missing in our church right now,” White said. “They’ve gotten all kinds of rules and catechism, but they haven’t gotten much humanity and passion.”

During services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, White will focus on a recent photo of Pope Francis holding a child, and how the care with which he’s doing so is reminiscent of Christ.

During the series of photos, the child pulls off Pope Francis’ white skull cap. The Pope gently recovers it and places it back on his head.

At Trinity Lutheran Church in Huntley, Interim Pastor Stewart Schulz is taking a different approach as he speaks to close to 500 people on Christmas and Christmas Eve. He’ll talk about the ways the world would be different without God’s greatest gift.

The main theme will be, “What if Jesus had never come?” Schulz said.

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