A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Most Memorable Christmas Eve Service

Christmas is a special time for many of us. Attending church on a Christmas Eve and holding a lit candle while singing "Silent Night" offers a unique experience like none other.

One year, the Christmas Eve service we had worked so hard on didn't go as we had planned. First of all, the service started ten minutes late because several of the worship leaders hadn't arrived on time. The soloist who was supposed to come on stage near the beginning of the service never appeared. The bulletin listed the name of a former pastor as one of the leaders of the service. The main microphone hadn't been turned on making it difficult to hear what the worship leader was saying. Even the children's Christmas play in the middle of the service had confusing parts and it was difficult to hear the lines.

As we stumbled our way through the service, we finally made it to the end when it was time to light our candles. As the congregation began to sing, "Silent Night" each worshipper raised their lit candle into the darkened sanctuary. In that moment, nothing could rob us of the wonder of that moment. Somehow, we had forgotten about the microphone that didn't work and the bulletin with several mistakes. We were awe struck by the holiness of that moment.

Things didn't go as planned when Jesus was born either; an untimely birth while Mary and Joseph were traveling away from Mary's home, no vacancy signs all over Bethlehem, and a jealous king who felt threatened at the news of a newborn king. But none of those things prevented Mary from pondering and treasuring that holy moment when Christ was born.

After the benediction and as people began to leave the Christmas Eve service, I was surprised to hear several people say what a wonderful service that was. Were they just being nice? No, it was just that like Mary, they allowed the wonder of Christ's birth to overcome all of the other distractions around them.

The Christmas Eve that I thought would be good to forget became the one that I will always cherish and remember. Praise God!

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