A trip to Andover for the “Joy of Christmas Past and Present” will be a step back in time for young and old alike. The 47th annual “Joy of Christmas” service will be at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Augustana Lutheran Church in Andover. Augustana College students will join area residents and visitors for what is referred to by many as “the most charming Christmas service ever.”

About this story: College and country gather in Andover to celebrate the Joy of Christmas Past and Present. Find out what makes the worship service scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 6, so special.

A trip to Andover for the “Joy of Christmas Past and Present” will be a step back in time for young and old alike.

The 47th annual “Joy of Christmas” service will be at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Augustana Lutheran Church in Andover. Augustana College students will join area residents and visitors for what is referred to by many as “the most charming Christmas service ever.”

Augustana College Campus Ministries and Augustana church sponsor the service, which the Rev. Richard Priggie, Augustana College chaplain, directs.

The service begins in Augustana Lutheran Church, referred to as “the big church.” The Christmas story will be read in three languages by Augustana students.

Faculty and students in the music department at Augustana College will provide special music.

Dr. Christopher Whitt, professor of political science at Augustana, will share the message.

“Preachers at this festive service down through the years have included faculty members and other Augustana College staff who were chosen because we think they have something substantial to say about the Christmas story,” Priggie said.

“Dr. Whitt fits perfectly in that mold,” he said. “As a political scientist, it would not be surprising if Dr. Whitt speaks about the societal context of Jesus’ birth, when Augustus was emperor and Quirinius was governor. And expect him to comment on what Christmas means to him and might mean to us all in our times and in our fractured world.”

“One thing I am sure will be part of my message is justice,” Whitt said. “Christmastime brings about a renewed focus on justice, equity and love.”

The speaker was awarded the 2017 Power of One Award at the annual community celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King for his continuing work to empower the people of the Quad Cities.

In March the National Conference of Black Political Scientists presented Whitt with their 2017 Fannie Lou Hamer Outstanding Community Service Award.

The Joy of Christmas service “remains one of the most popular events of the year at the college,” Priggie said. “Several busloads of students brave the cold to participate, and they encourage their friends to be sure to come. It is the most charming, the most beautiful of our Christmas traditions.”

After the service, the group will walk from “the big church” to the small Jenny Lind Chapel, completely lit by candlelight, for communion and caroling.

The Jenny Lind Chapel will have an unadorned Christmas tree, like one that was first used in the 1850’s.

After the service, participants will walk back to the church for refreshments in Luther Hall.

According to Ron Peterson, Dean of the Jenny Lind Chapel board and a life-long member of the Andover community, the annual Joy of Christmas service originated in 1970 with the Rev. Richard Swanson, pastor of the church on the college campus.

“This special worship event celebrates the historic links between the two Augustanas for 157 years,” Peterson said. “Augustana Church was organized in 1850, and Augustana College was founded in 1860, both by the Rev. Lars Paul Esbjorn.”