Tag Archives: a Christmas Eve service

traditions: O Holy Night

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the Glory of your people Israel! Luke 2.32 NLT

Each year, I take part in singing Christmas carols, whether within the four walls of my downtown apartment, in front of church or with another group of people (via caroling or during a Christmas Eve service somewhere). I love them all, but O Holy Night is by far my most favorite Christmas carol. I have favorites…as in I like most of them (with the exception of Presley’s Blue Christmas and Burl Ives croon Holly, Jolly Christmas – I could so do without those each year), but O Holy Night takes the cake.

Every year

Every time I hear it.

Yes, I’ll admit that the vocal range is pretty broad, but, if played in the right key(s), I can hit them all and this little personal form of excitement (a triumphant Hallelujah!) takes over.

I had the privilege of hearing this song played out and even got to sing it at a pre-Christmas Eve candlelight service I attended last night with a dear friend.

You see – I work until close this evening and wouldn’t have had an option of even attending a Christmas Eve service somewhere by the time I’m off. When my friend asked if I’d like to join her and her mom for last night’s service, I immediately said yes.

It was awesome

The gospel was taught enthusiastically and being on the other end of the music part of the service, well, it was a nice reprieve. I could sing as loud as I wanted and when I heard the beginning chords of O Holy Night, my heart soared, just as it has since I was a little girl.

My favorite Christmas hymn

One that brings my heart to its knees the moment the chorus hits

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, divine! O night, O night divine!

[I’m even listening to David Crowder’s version right now…ending on Jeff Buckley’s chorus of A Broken Hallelujah…beautiful).

And then my favorite part arrived: the last chorus where the “O night…” is drawn out on a “ritardando,” held and then finished out. [You can hear Selah’s version here].

My soul soared

Just as it always does

Two thousand years ago, in the midst of so much imperfection, Christ was born on what can be considered one of the most perfect nights even in the history of mankind. God used imperfection circumstances and an imperfect location in the form of a humble manger to bring His perfect and holy Son into our world.

He could have so easily made Jesus’ birth a triumphant one, allowing Christ to be born in a palace, but he didn’t.

He chose not to.

This was the only way he could save all of mankind.

It is through all that imperfection that made this night so holy and so perfect.

The way God brought Jesus into our world is very similar to the way he works in our lives.

More often than not, God takes our imperfections – situations, circumstances, personalities, etc. – and uses them to perfect us; to make us who he intended us to be at the dawn of creation.

God loves to take the physical and emotional scars and use those to help us grow into stronger people. He also desires that we take what we have learned from our imperfections and help others who may be struggling with similar things.

And just as Jesus was a light to reveal God to all nations, we can be that same light as well.

Perhaps that’s why I love this song so much. Through the lens of the cross, I see my imperfections, and in spite of the fact that I am my worst critic, Jesus gives me the grace, strength and mercy to be kind to myself and, in doing so, I’m able to see what God is doing with and through my imperfection and where he has started perfecting certain aspects of my person.

Don’t let your imperfections hinder you from what God has for you. Allow God to use them to shape you into the person he designed you to be – and be a light in this dark world. Submit your weakness to God so that he can turn them into your greatest strengths.

traditions: candlelight services

christmas-candle-for-alexis-blog-12212010When 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.