The holidays are a time of tradition and family for most people. But for those in another country, the traditions can be hard to find. German Americans in Lawton and at Fort Sill are hoping to make one of these traditions available again this year. The "Deutscher Weihnachts-Gottesdienst mit abendmahl" or German Christmas worship, with traditional refreshments is at 7 p.m. Friday at Frontier Chapel, 4121 Thomas St., Fort Sill. The service includes a Nativity play (Krippenspiel). It is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, so be sure to get there early.
In Germany this service is usually done near Christmas Eve as part of Advent. Sometimes the Advent wreath candles are lit during the service. It can depend of the person giving the sermon.
The German American Club of Lawton has been doing this service for almost 40 years, said Dr. Rose Lepien, one of the organizers and the program director. This year is bittersweet for the club. This is the first play without Kral Waldbauer, the club's president of three decades.
"The play is in his memory this year," she said.
The liturgy is sometimes preformed in a mix of English and German, depending on the chaplain in charge. The Nativity is in German. These plays have been a tradition in Germany since the Middle Ages, often part of the children's program during service on Christmas Eve.
"The service is very close to many of us," said Lepian. "It's memories of home for Germans who have relocated."
Lepien has performed in the role of the Archangel Gabriel for many years, and is has been director since the play's creator Betty Bachantin died.
"I promised her on her deathbed that I would continue this play," she said.