Downtown Churches, Christmas Eve and a Slight Inexplicable case of the Creeps

One of the little secrets about downtown to the people who aren’t involved is that there is a lot of action in the streets around midnight on Christmas Eve. Just after midnight is when a number of downtown churches end their Christmas Eve services and probably between one and two thousand people spill out into the night. First Baptist, St. John’s and Church Street UMC have services and I believe Immaculate Conception does, as well. As the various parishioners move out into the cold night, the bells ring and it’s Christmas day.

St. John’s Episcopal, Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville

On my walk Christmas afternoon I took a small stab at photographing St. Johns. It is one of the most beautiful of some seriously beautiful churches downtown. I stopped after one picture because I couldn’t find a way to capture the whole thing. It’s worth taking some time the next time you are in the city to check it out.

First Baptist Church, Main Street, Knoxville
First Baptist Knoxville’s Creche

I also walked to First Baptist to check out their creche. If you haven’t seen it, you might want to make the effort next year. I think it is life-sized, but it seems larger than life sitting high on the front portico of the building. I’m not sure why, but it has always given me the creeps. The figures are all white and maybe that is part of it, though statues don’t generally give me the creeps and they are often white. It is strange looking into their vacant eyes, though I’ve never been close enough to do so before this trip. Maybe the unease is from some buried fear from my childhood or from a superstitious nature I don’t fully appreciate in myself.

Mary, Joseph, Jesus
Angel at First Baptist

I walked up to photograph the tableau and faced whatever was there. It did demystify the figures a bit. There’s some wear. A shepherd has lost a finger, the angels are fraying a bit around the edges. What do you think? Do you see beauty and mystery or do you get the creep factor? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I should see a therapist and find out what is really going on in my little brain.