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Multi-Faith Festival of Lessons & Carols Invokes Hope in Turbulent Times

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Sacramento inter-faith organization The Experience will present a Christmas pageant and multi-faith candlelight Festival of Lessons and Carols from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23, at St. Paul’s, 1430 J Street in Midtown Sacramento.

The multi-faith celebration will incorporate traditions from the Jewish and Muslim, as well as Christian, faiths. The celebration and pageant will include costumed Biblical characters, special instrumental and vocal musical performances, and even a visit from Old St. Nicholas, bearing (chocolate) gold coins for all the children. Vocal soloists Carrie Hennessey, Heather Clark, and Suzanne Abernathy  will perform under the direction of Jim Jordan, Director of Music for The Experience. The roles of shepherds, wise men and angels will be played by local children, and the role of Baby Jesus will be played by an infant girl.

Dr. David Thompson, executive director and pastor for The Experience, said in an update to friends this week that he was struck by the similarities between the events of the time of Jesus’ birth and the recent events of our own time.

“I was struck this week by the similarity of the times when the first Christmas came to us. Herod slaughtered innocents; travel in those times was hazardous, as it is today in the Middle East; and there was an unanticipated pregnancy and a fiscal cliff of taxes,” Thompson said. “But at the same time, there was a gentler Force at work—angels singing above hillsides and one appearing to Mary, telling her all was well, dreams that warned Joseph and the wise men to take precautions, and a sense that history was changing even as outwardly things seemed essentially the same.

“It seems that tragedy is always necessary before we all waken at the same time. Children are a most potent force for change, especially when they are in danger. I am hopeful, more so than usual, that we are on the cusp of positive change, this one led by children.”

The Experience is a non-profit  religious organization dedicated to building bridges between faith communities. The organization holds weekly interfaith worship services on Sundays at 4:04 p.m. at St. Paul’s, 1430 J St., Sacramento, CA 95814, which are free and open to the public. Each service incorporates elements of at least three faith traditions, as well as a wide variety of musical performances, ranging from show tunes to Christian hymns to Sufi folk music. At least once a month The Experience features a guest who speaks about his or her ethnic heritage and faith tradition. Guest speakers at The Experience have included representatives of Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Church of Latter Day Saints, Science of Mind, Wiccan, and many other philosophical and faith traditions. The organization also is gay-affirming.

On Sunday, in beautiful old St. Paul’s church, amid candlelight and carols, Sacramentans will gather at The Experience to remember and celebrate peace and good will toward all. To learn more about the Christmas Celebration, visit the event Facebook page. For more information about The Experience, visit experiencesacramento.org.

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