We didn’t grow up going to church on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t that we didn’t attend church. We very much did. But Christmas Eve is my daddy’s birthday, and my mother did all she could to keep that day reserved for him instead of baby Jesus. Which was fine. He needed a celebration of his life just like all the rest of us got on our days throughout the year.
But when each of us (four siblings) had our own families, we had the freedom to choose our own traditions with our children. And we all chose the Christmas Eve service at church. It’s come to be one of my favorite moments of the season. The carols. The festive atmosphere. But mostly, it’s the lighting of the candles I look forward to.
When I look across the congregation, a small flame erect in each hand, I get a lump in my throat. Two things always come to mind. The first is that starlit night when Jesus was born, when a girl laid her new baby in a manger, when angel’s appeared to the shepherds, when maybe the star the magi followed shone a little bit brighter. But those flickering flames also give me pause to remember both the collective and the individual aspects of the Christian life. The candles shining in the dark auditorium remind me that together we shine His great light into the world, and yet they show the importance of each of us maintaining our own flame of faith. Guarding it. Nurturing it. Without those small, individual lights working together, the darkness creeps in. We so often forget that. We see our little flames as insignificant. We think no one will miss it if it sputters and dies. But that is not true. And I see that lived out in the candlelight of Christmas Eve. Individual, yet one. The body of Christ.
What was your favorite moment of celebration this Christmas?