With song and prayer, Christmas Eve was a celebration in most churches across Jacksonville.
At Southside United Methodist Church, the congregation gave thanks and celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. Even during these troubling times, the true meaning came through.
"The message of Christmas is that Jesus is our hope, and I think people are looking for hope," said Ian Stake of Southside United Methodist Church. "He is something we can hold on to. He has made himself real to us, right where we are."
For 2-year-old Norah Kobrin, Christmas can be seen in the light of her eyes. Fascinated by the luminaries and the candle she is holding, her father Craig Kobrin said he is glad to be at this service.
"It is the whole reason we are here. It's the whole reason for the religion," said Craig. "It's the whole reason for all those who believe. It's the night it all started."
This was evident at Lakewood Presbyterian Church. The live nativity set the stage for the Christmas story and everyone had a chance to participate.
Katie Robb is an associate pastor of Lakewood Presbyterian Church.
"We try to make it really child-friendly," said Robb. "We had an impromptu nativity where every child that comes can dress up and be part of the scene inside and worship. When everyone comes outside, we have live animals and a live nativity so everyone can get into the Christmas spirit."