My favorite tradition at Christmas has always been the candle-light service at my church. It’s the one day out of the whole year, where the church is so crowded, that the flood room windows have to be opened up, and extra chairs have to be set up.
The lights are dimmed down. a Christmas tree that reaches almost to the ceiling is decorated at the front of the church next to the alter. A nativity scene is placed in the middle of the stage. And poinsettias and lanterns surround the entire sanctuary. It is a beautiful sight to see.
And while the physical beauty of the church is enough to make you smile, the emotional beauty of the entire service is what really fills my heart with uncontainable joy.
The feeling of family – being around people that you grew up singing hymns next to in church. The feeling of contentment – being around people who have always accepted you and loved you without judgment. The feeling of warmth – celebrating the greatest eve that there has ever been, with people who believe in and celebrate with you. The feeling of being home.
The whole night is truly spectacular.
But after the stories have been told, the songs have been sung, and the organ has been worn out, the greatest part of the whole night finally happens.
The moment where everything and everyone gets quiet. The moment when everything else in the world gets dark. And after a few seconds of being completely still in the dark, the shimmer from one candle shines from the alter, in front of the entire congregation. That one single glow, turns in to two glows, then turns in to five glows, and then eventually consumes the entire sanctuary. And while everything and everyone is still quiet, the piano begins to quietly play, and then everyone begins to sing all the verses of Silent Night.
In this moment, I feel completely at peace. Nothing else matters, but being in the beautiful moment with my family, my friends, my church family, and most importantly God.
You see, that one single candle that is first lit at the front of the church, is not just a light. No, it is so much more than that. That one single light symbolizes the birth of one very special baby boy, who with his first breath, changed the entire world and changed all of those who believe – The baby boy that delivered us all from darkness and lit up our hearts with the promise of salvation. And as that light spreads throughout the church, from person to person, it is symbolizing the hope, joy, and love that was given to us all that night. All we have to do is accept it, and like the candle we are holding, we will ignite and shine for all the world to see.
Merry Christmas everyone and Happy Birthday Jesus!