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Advent celebrated at historic Pa. church

November 30, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The Rev. Barton D. Berry Jr. told three dozen people on Sunday afternoon that the weeks leading up to Christmas should be celebrated and revered.

Berry told those gathered for the annual holiday service at Harbaugh Church that without the birth of Jesus Christ, his followers would never be able to celebrate the later resurrection and ascension to heaven.

"Part of the Advent season (is to) prepare for our Lord to come and to rule and judge. The comfort of the judging for me is that our judge has been one of us, has lived as we lived, understands us," Berry said.

Berry served as this year's guest preacher for the service held at the 116-year-old Harbaugh Church southeast of Waynesboro. The Waynesboro Historical Society, which owns the church, hosts a hymn sing and Advent service each year, while also renting the small, stained-glass-lined sanctuary for special occasions.

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"For one thing, it's an opportunity for us to celebrate the historical significance of the building the way it was intended," said David McJonathan, historical society president.

The church, named for Dr. Henry Harbaugh, stood vacant when its congregation merged with another and moved to Wayne Heights, Pa. The historical society acquired the brick building in 1983.

"Realizing it was in disrepair ... the deed transferred for the nominal fee of $1," McJonathan said.

"This is only my third year (attending), but I grew up in Ohio with the descendants of Henry Harbaugh. I can't not come," said Holly Campbell of Waynesboro.

"It's a wonderful beginning to the Christmas season," said Doris Large of Waynesboro.

The service featured Berry, a handbell choir from Rouzerville (Pa.) United Methodist Church and music from 7 Mile Road of Gettysburg, Pa. Berry, from the Blue Ridge Summit (Pa.) Church of the Transfiguration, joked several times with the congregation.

"This is the one time of year that Christianity is accepted by most everyone, especially merchants," Berry said, generating chuckles from the crowd.

Berry urged the congregants to enjoy Christmastime: "I really don't care when you put up your Christmas ornaments. I think in general God is a pretty happy guy."

However, he said the time should also be used for reflection and consideration of the pending second coming of Christ.

"Look at yourself and look at yourself in the light of the Gospel. That is where we're given the example (of how to live) in Jesus Christ," Berry said.

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