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'The Church Is Alive': Thousands Of Minnesotans Gather For Christmas Eve Services

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Thousands of Minnesotans spend part of Christmas Eve attending services.

This is a significant day for Christians, as it commemorates the day before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Preparing for thousands of visitors at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis is no easy task, according to Johan van Parys, director of liturgy and sacred arts.

"It's quite a bit of work. We started last Saturday," van Parys said. "The evergreens come in, and today is the flowers, candles."

Eighty people worked all morning long, dressing the altar and setting up candles, to make sure the Basilica was ready for the 10,000-plus people who are expected to worship there over the next two days. It was a capacity crowd for the 3 p.m. service Tuesday.

Christmas Eve Mass At Basilica of St Mary
Basilica of St Mary (credit: CBS)

"The church is alive. We have older people, we have children, we have people from different backgrounds. The church comes together," van Parys said. "It's not just staff who does it. It's owned by everyone in the parish, which is so beautiful about it."

It was a more intimate celebration at Silver Lake United Methodist Church in Oakdale.

"When people walk through the doors here, what I will say about Silver Lake United Methodist Church is they are a people who genuinely love people," Rev. Amanda Lunemann said.

The church will host about six-dozen people for their Christmas Eve services. Although the crowd sizes are different at the two churches, the central Christian message is still the same.

"God with us breaks into that world in the most ordinary ways and heals it from the ground up, from the manger up," Lunemann said.

The last Christmas Eve service at the Basilica starts at midnight. Christmas mass will be held Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon and 4:30 p.m.

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