When I was a child, the small-town church my family attended didn’t have a Christmas Eve service. Everything was held on Christmas Day, making it one of the busiest days of the year. The morning would start with chores (just as every other morning did…cows don’t take a day off, you know) which would promptly be followed by a flurry of getting ready and loading up the car – imagine one bathroom to six people, three of them girls. We’d drive off to church, attend the service, visit with a few people and then pack up and head off to Grandpa and Grandma’s for dinner and presents before we returned home to open ours.
I don’t miss that….the busyness.
When I was fifteen, that church finally made the switch to a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. It gave us an additional four hours of free time on Christmas Day No more rushing from one place to the next, being too exhausted to even enjoy the time we spend with our immediate family.
I also discovered that I felt more at home in the presence of God at those candlelight services. The darkening of the room with only the candles to light the pages with Christmas carols to be sung aided in my imagining what the heavens must have looked like the night Jesus was born. So many stars, possibly including that bright one that led the wise men to his presence.
I’d also like to think that one day, when we join him in heaven, there will be an instant replay for everything that has ever happened in our history. I would love to watch that scene unfold.
It’s been thirteen years since my first candlelight service and I find that this is one tradition I look forward to most – an evening where it’s just Jesus and me, no matter who I’m sharing the service with. I ponder the news of his birth and the implications his sacrifice has had on my life and I thank him for all that he’s done and continues to do.
What about you? What do you enjoy most about the Christmas season? Choose to allow God to use those traditions to remind you of what he did for you and where you’ve come from.