One of the most wonderful aspects of this time of year is the wealth of traditions we share. One such tradition occurs each year on the first weekend of December, as Williamston holds its annual Light Parade where young and old gather together to celebrate the holiday season. For many years, our parish has had a float in the parade and then invited the community to come back to our church for our Afterglow Celebration
This year’s parade will be held on Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. and all are welcome both to the event and at the parish afterward. There will be hot chocolate and treats, along with caroling, bonfires, and a special message to prepare our hearts for the Advent and Christmas seasons.
The purpose of having everyone come back together at our church for Afterglow is to bring the message of Jesus to others.
“We want to not only join in the fun of the celebrations, but remind people — or let them know for the first time — the main point of the the Advent and Christmas seasons, and to put the focus back on Jesus, inviting them into the celebration,” says Christy Whiting.
There is also a spiritual component to the gathering. During the parade, parishioners will be distributing candles with cards for people to bring back to the church.
“We invite them to bring that candle and light it for a special prayer intention,” Christy says.
All are also welcome to bring prayer intentions to place in the empty manger and give to Jesus in the church.
“The whole reason Jesus came was to invite people into a relationship with Him,” Christy says. “Christmas is all about Jesus coming to save us, so how can we celebrate without letting people know He’s here to save us? It’s our responsibility to tell people that they have a savior Who is coming to save them, to extend that joy and let them receive that love and grow in relationship with Him. This is a wonderful, fun way of doing that.”
Gathering in the parish with community members, parishioners, families, and friends provides a wonderful opportunity for evangelization and fellowship. Being together, and celebrating in community, is a great way to invite people who may not be familiar with the reason we celebrate Christmas and the importance to our Church. By extending hospitality to others, we allow them to encounter the faith in a tangible way.
Importantly, Afterglow brings together many volunteers from our parish. Our musicians will provide music in the church during the event, while the hospitality volunteers provide refreshments. Various volunteers will also be preparing the float, so it’s also a special event for our school and parish to come together.
“It’s Christ’s body coming together in a fun way, making His love present,” Christy says. “He is present through us, so we want as many parishioners as possible to be part of that and welcome our city so they can truly get to know Jesus as well.”
Parishioners are welcome and encouraged to participate, as well as help out with preparations and clean up. Families and people of all ages are welcome.
“This is the main way that our parish as a whole can evangelize our city,” Christy says. “We literally invite the whole city to come and encounter Jesus. We need as many parishioners as possible to help facilitate that.”
For more information or to help out, contact Christy Whiting at 517-655-2520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.