On an altar lined with bright red poinsettias and a Christmas tree twinkling nearby, Pastor Jeff Miller shared a special message with his congregation, hoping to remind people about the true reason behind the holiday season.

More than 30 people attended First United Methodist Church’s 11 a.m. service Christmas Day.

The relaxed service saw congregants wearing jeans and Christmas sweaters, happy to have the chance to worship on such a special day.

While most churches in the area offered Christmas Eve services or midnight Mass, several, like First United, also organized Christmas Day services to recognize the birthday of Jesus Christ.

Longtime friends Melissa Cruz and Sam Weatherly, of Killeen, attended the late morning service at First United.

“It’s an awesome church,” Weatherly said. He said he enjoys attending Christmas services each year, whether they are on Dec. 24 or 25.

For Cruz, attending the service was an important reminder of the holiday season.

“I want to keep focus on what (Christmas) is about,” she said.

The church hosts Christmas Eve services annually, but doesn’t always hold a Christmas Day service.

It last held a Christmas Day service in 2011, because the Dec. 25 fell on a Sunday.

“We had three times as many people as we expected. We thought maybe people are trying to tell us something,” Miller said. “Some people work on Christmas Eve or (spend time with family). This is another opportunity for people to experience a worship.”

His message on Christmas Day centered on the different ways people respond to gifts, specifically the gift of Christ’s love.

“When was the last time we were that excited about a gift?” Miller asked the congregation, comparing the manner to how children excitedly tear open presents to an adult’s more reserved response.

A gift is not an asset in one’s life until it is received, he said, describing the love, peace and hope God provides as an unused gift.

“Savor the moment, treasure these things,” he said.

Following the service, Miller said he hoped the overall goal of his sermon was achieved.

“I just want to give people something to think about for the day,” he said.

Contact Madison Lozano​ at mlozano@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7552.

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