FORT SMITH (KFSM) – With only a few days left until Christmas Eve, many churches are preparing for one of the most anticipated days of the year.
Father John Antony at Immaculate Conception said he’s expecting the church to be full for midnight Mass.
“Believe it or not, people actually stay awake during midnight Mass because they're so excited about what's happening,” Antony said.
He said he’s been preparing for the night all month long.
“We’ve been preparing for four weeks, in a season called Advent,” he said. “And so for four weeks we've lit another candle on the Advent wreath. The preparation has been unfolding."
Not far from Immaculate Conception, preparations are being made at the First Baptist Church, too.
"Baptists are pretty basic when it comes to holidays. We celebrate them, but we do it in kind of a very foundational form,” pastor Dale Thompson said.
Thompson has been a pastor for nearly 24 years, and said he spends about a month preparing for his Christmas Eve service as well. He said that service will begin at 5:30 p.m.
“After 24 years, you do have to think about what you're going to do," Thompson said. "We think about it through the month and make some notes, look at it and look at what we're using on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights, so we prepare in that way."
And while each church has its own traditions, both Antony and Thompson said they make an effort to deliver differently than the year before, so the message isn't exactly the same.
“We bring out different aspects of the Christmas story. Same story, same history of salvation, but you can always delve a little deeper,” Antony said.
The First Baptist Church has a Christmas Eve music program that will air on CBS after the 10 p.m. newscast on 5NEWS.