Spiritual notes

A Blue Christmas service, offering solace to the suffering, will be held at 7 p.m. today, Friday, Dec. 21, at Grace United Methodist Church, 5428 South Main St., Westover. For those experiencing loneliness, grief, loss or hardship, the Christmas season is far from the most wonderful time of the year

“Every store you go into the clerk is saying Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas with looping tracks of ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Joy to the World’ filling the air, and for people who are hurting, it can amplify their pain and sorrow,” said the Rev. John Balliet.

In response, the church will host a “Longest Night/Blue Christmas” service, offering a quiet, calm and meditative service of music, Scripture, candles, prayer, solace, reflection and communion. A time of fellowship will be held after the service.

– The cantata, “At Home For Christmas,” will be held at East Ridge Harmony United Methodist Church, 1713 Ridge Road, Westover, at 6 p.m. Sunday. Refreshments in available in the church social hall after the service.

– Juniata United Methodist Church, 808 N. Fourth St., Altoona, will host the choir’s annual Christmas cantata. “The Gift Goes On” will be presented at 10:45 a.m. Sunday. For more information, contact the church office at 942-6065.

– The Wehnwood Community Orchestra and the congregation of Wehnwood United Methodist Church will present “Caroling Around the World” at 9:15 a.m. Sunday. The church is at 2511 Juniata Gap Road, Altoona. There will be no 8 a.m. service on this day.

“Waiting for the Promise” will be presented at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Juniata Church of the Brethren, 306 N. Ninth Ave. Musical selections include “Come to the Manger,” “What Child Is This?” and “No Room” by Peterson. Sunday school students will give speeches and readings on the Christmas theme “Prepare to Celebrate Christmas You People of Bethlehem.”

– A free pasta dinner will be served from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday in Freedom Hall at the Oasis of Love Church of Huntingdon. Reservations are not necessary. There will be a gluten free option.

After the meal, at 6:30 p.m., the play “Shepherds and Kings” will be presented. The church is located on Station Road, across from Southside Elementary School. For more information, contact the church office at 627-3819.

The Oasis of Love Church will also host a Christmas service at 10 a.m. Sunday. At

3 p.m., the play “Shepherds and Kings” will be performed.

– Champion Life Church will present “The Christmas Show” at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 4 p.m. Monday.

The show is free to the public, but tickets are required. To get free tickets, contact the church box office at 942-9400, ext. 4 or online at MyChampionLifeChurch.com/Christmas.

Beavertown God’s Missionary Church will host a Christmas Live Nativity, “Hope is Here,” from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight and Saturday at Middlecreek Farms, Middleburg. The Christmas story will be presented in an interactive way through 10 unique scenes in the Nativity Barn. This annual Christmas tradition features more than 75 volunteers and a variety of animals including camels, sheep, miniature pigs, goats, cattle, rabbits, donkeys and a peacock.

Guests are encouraged to dress warmly as portions of the barn are unheated. This event is free and open to the public; donations are accepted.

The Live Nativity is at 134 Farmhaus Road, Middleburg. Look for the lighted sign along 522 and turn onto Farmhaus Road. Text 570-541-9538 or call 570-658-2422 for more information.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 806 11th St., Altoona, will host an organ concert at 3 p.m. Dec. 30. “A Community Celebration of Christmas” will feature seasonal music and audience participation. Organist Agoston F. Solczi will join church organist James Dengler on the new custom hybrid Viscount organ that was recently installed by Whitesel Church Organs and Peragallo Organ Co.

Solczi was born and raised in Romania. He started his musical education at the age of 11 taking piano lessons at the local art school in his hometown of Zalau. He started playing the organ at his local church at the age of 12 and has been involved in the ministry of music at various churches ever since. He graduated from college in Romania in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English language and literature and moved to the United States shortly after graduation, settling in the Pittsburgh area. He became the organist/choir director of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Sewickley in April 2011 and currently holds that position as he studies organ performance with Dr. Prof. Ann Labounsky-Steele at the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Religious organizations are invited to submit upcoming events, special speakers and other items to be published free of charge in Spiritual Notes. Items can be emailed to religion@altoonamirror.com or call Holly at 946-7451. Items may also be submitted online through the Mirror’s virtual newsroom at vnr.altoonamirror.com.