Yesterday’s Christmas Eve service was the same as Sunday. Off I went Sunday with my family to their church so I braced myself for a service without interpreters, which I knew. The pastor usually leaves his sermon notes copied off on the table in the foyer, but there were none left when we arrived. I just watched the praise team from the balcony where we sat and read the words to the songs, occasionally hearing the beat of the next stanza so I could try to sing along. The sermon started and I just followed the three main bullet points of the sermon about the particular Advent candle. I had my Bible so I read some passages and found amusement from the boy sitting in front of me trying to figure out where the exact middle of the Bible was–he ended up in the middle of the Psalms. No surprise, I told myself…seems like I had done that myself when I was his age. We took communion and then the praise band did an acoustic version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” They sang all the verses–and even though I could hear all the words, I just sat there and listened for most of it. Just letting the words sink in. “O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.”
Last night was different though the same church, same pastor, same seats. Except this time my attitude was different. In the car, I kept thinking to myself–this is ridiculous! I could just stay at home and read my Bible and sing a few hymns to myself. I felt more like a hypocrite really–wearing my favorite skinny jeans, cute sparkly top and sparkly shoes. Like dressing up for nothing…was what my thoughts were. The songs had no words on the power point; there were no bullet points to the message; and worst of all, I forgot my Bible so I couldn’t even read any passages. I just sat there. My right hearing aid was not right and so I had to take it out; my shoes were bugging me (and my sister told me they were making noise as I was trying to take them off); and I just really wanted to leave. We did not even have candles to hold when they started the song and proceeded with the congregation lighting each others’ candles. The people in front of us turned and realized we had no candles. They offered theirs. Another woman did the same. When all the candles were lit, we sang Silent Night.
In the candle glow, I realized that this is what Christmas should be like–sharing our candles with others so they too have light in their time of need. It brings hope and love and peace. The Light of Christmas isn’t meant to burn out the 26th of December. The message lasts all year.
From my house to yours: Merry Christmas!