The night was cold, the hour was late, and they were all tired. But, they came anyway. There was a sacredness in this gathering of intentional worshippers. Though few, they came together for this beautiful Christmas Eve service.
Celebrated in the reading of the Word was the gentle birth of the Christ Child. And, the singing of carols filled the sacred space as worshippers communed. Then came the moment when the sanctuary lights were dimmed. The Christ candle provided the source of iight from which all others would be lit. As the small flame was carefully passed from one worshiper’s candle to another, the light was reflected from face to face. It was a beautiful symbol of Christ’s love being shared.
During this time, the accompanist guided the worshipers into singing all three verses of “Silent Night.” After the first two verses were sung, the organist ceased playing. There was a pause. Was this in error or on purpose? Who knew. But spontaneously, a single voice began singing the third verse a capella:
“Silent Night, Holy Night…”
A few others joined in…“Son of God, Love’s pure light.”
More voices moved into harmonies…
”Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace.”
With full voices, the last refrain was slowly savored…
“Jesus, Lord at thy birth…Jesus, Lord at thy birth.”
It sounded almost angelic. Then there was stillness, a silent wish for more verses. What had just transpired was a lovely gift; a brief moment of harmony. Perhaps not everyone realized it, but to those who did, it filled their hearts.
After the pastor’s benediction-blessing, the candles were extinguished. The worshippers wished each other a Merry Christmas and left, returning to their homes. The Advent waiting was over. Christmas had joyfully begun.
Giver of Life,
We thank you for these holy seasons of Advent and Christmas. It feels like we waited a long time this year. As you came to us as an infant, small and tender, we believe you often continue to speak to us in small and tender ways. This New Year may we be sensitive to recognizing those ways, lest we miss them. Through the Holy Spirit may we know, each new day, the assurance of your abiding love.
In your holy name,