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A Christmas Eve candlelight service with a little extra warmth on a cold night; plus other area services

The Orchard in Carbondale presents its traditional Live Nativity following the Christmas Eve services at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, including live actors and animals.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Christmas is this weekend and while many people have plans for food and presents, there are a multitude of Christmas Eve services to attend throughout the county.

Carols and candles always help to excite the holiday spirit, especially during a Christmas Eve service. 

One long-standing and fun tradition that adds a new spin to the candlelight Christmas Eve service is the Live Nativity at The Orchard Life in Carbondale. 



“Most people will come to a candle lighting service, sing carols, tell a Christmas story and then they will bundle up, get some cider or hot cocoa and go outside where we’ll have the live Nativity,” Pastor Daniel Self said. 

The Live Nativity is held directly after the 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. services on both Friday and Saturday behind the church, with hot drinks and a fire pit to warm the body and the soul. It’s one of many Christmas Eve services planned at churches throughout Garfield County for Saturday afternoon and evening (see listing below).



“We want a fun factor but also want to have just that nostalgia and the warm fuzzies that come from the Christmas season, and when you add all those elements together with the carols, bundled up at the firepit with hot cocoa, it’s a pretty cool environment,” Self said.

Pastor Self’s daughter Selah Self is one of the actors and will be playing the angel for the second year.  

“I like dressing up, and it’s fun because not many people get to do this. We do it to show everybody about Jesus,” she said. 

The Christmas story is acted out in a homemade barn so attendees can fully experience the night Jesus was born.

And yes, it was probably a lot warmer in the desert on the night Jesus was born. So the cocoa, cider and firepit add a little extra warmth in the snowy mountain town. 

The church puts on two services on Christmas Eve and two services on the eve of Christmas Eve, with all four services ending with the Live Nativity enactment right after.

“We just kept doing it and adding more to it,” he said. “And now we have animals that show up and we tell the whole Christmas story with some Carols, interspersed at different times.”

Self said that his father, Pastor Doug Self, started the tradition sometime in the 1980s in a barn on the Perry family property in Carbondale. It has continued to grow since. 

They have live actors dress up for each person in the story. The story is told as Joseph, Mary and Jesus all enter first. Then the shepherds, hark angels and wisemen make appearances as the tale goes on. There are also live animals.

“Everybody gets in their place as the story is told and we sing the songs,” he said. “At the very end, people can take pictures.”

If you go for the Nativity, you should probably go for the whole service, Self said. The service is under an hour with free childcare, a cry room and live streaming.

“We have candlelight at the end while we sing ‘Silent Night,’ and then in the middle we have everything from some giveaways, we tell the Christmas story and lots of Carols and big band,” Self said.

If you go…

What: Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and Live Nativity

Where: The Orchard Life, 110 Snowmass Dr, Carbondale

When: 5 and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 23 and 24

Area Christmas Eve Services

GLENWOOD SPRINGS

Christmas Eve at Mountain Life, 701 Midland Ave. — 4 p.m. 

Mountain View Church, 2195 County Rd. 154 — 6:30 p.m. Candlelight service (service will be live streamed, info at MVCGlenwood.org) 

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1630 Grand Ave. — 4 p.m. Family Focused Worship and 6 p.m. Candlelight service 

First United Methodist Church, 824 Cooper Ave. — 3:30 p.m. Pop Up Pageant

First Presbyterian Church, 1016 Cooper Ave. — 5 p.m. Child-Friendly Candlelight Service, 7 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 546 S. Hyland Park Dr. — 4 p.m. Family Service and Christmas Pageant, 8:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Carol Sing and 9 p.m. Candlelight Service with Choir

St. Stephen Catholic Church, 1885 Blake Ave. — 4 p.m. Children’s Mass, 7 p.m. Spanish Christmas Eve and 10 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass

New Creation Church, 44761 U.S. Highway 6 — 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. music and communion, and 4 p.m. nursery service

CARBONDALE

The Orchard, 110 Snowmass Dr. — 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. indoor services (info at TheOrchardLife.com), outdoor Live Nativity following each service

Carbondale Community United Methodist Church, 385 S. Second St. — 5:30 p.m. Candlelight (info at Facebook.com/CarbondaleCommunityUnitedMethodistChurch)

NEW CASTLE

New Hope Church, 880 Castle Valley Blvd. — 6:30 p.m. cookies and coffee, 7 p.m. service 

St. John’s Episcopal Church, First and Main St. — 5 p.m. Christmas Eve, Holy Eucharist

First Baptist Church of New Castle, 172 N 7th St — 7 p.m. worship service

RIFLE

St. Mary Parish, 761 Birch Ave. — 5 p.m. English readings, 7:30 p.m. Spanish readings

Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 652 E. Fifth St. — 7 p.m. candlelight service

United Methodist-Presbyterian, 200 E. Fourth St. — Christmas Eve services at 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Rocky Mountain Baptist Church, 4199 W. Centennial Parkway — Christmas Eve: 6 p.m. worship service

New Life Fellowship, 1575 Farmstead Parkway — 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Cookies, Cocoa, Carols and Candles on Christmas Eve at Graham Mesa Elementary school in Rifle.

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