So quiet, this night...there's a sense of peace all around. This Christmas Eve has been everything I dreamed it would be. Austin and I went to a little country church tonight for the Candlelight Service. I was looking for the traditions I grew up with, and went away with so much more.
We had the candles, alright, but we experienced something I've never seen. The attendance was sparse, being a small church, but we were met with open arms and the spirit of friendship. There was a laid back feeling there, and the people seemed right at home with each other. There was no hushed whispers prior to the start of the service. Quite the contrary! Everyone was enjoying lively conversation and there was merriment in the air. And why not? It is the eve of our Lord's birth after all. Why be down in the mouth?! Children were not "shh'd" for being happy and enthusiastic, which was refreshing...a far cry from my early days "in church"!
There was a manger with straw set up in front, and I assumed we'd be seeing a re-enactment of the nativity. We got much more than a simple play. Pastor Jim, with a voice that grabs and holds you, had downloaded amazing video from the internet. It's hard to describe what we were seeing...it was like a movie about the birth of Christ, but done in clips. The music was absolutely moving and included the song "Mary, Did You Know?", one of my personal favorites. I asked Jim if he would please hook me up with the link he used to download that, and when I get it, I'll post it so you can enjoy it as well. Stay tuned for that....
As the story progressed, there were speakers, including "Mary", "Joseph", "shepherds" and "kings", who, when finished reading from the Bible, went over to take their respective places in the manger. At the end of the video and story, we all went to the manger area and lit our candles. Singing commenced at that time with all of us included. I'm sure everyone was grateful I didn't sing any louder than I did. Bonnie Raitt I am not.
At the conclusion of the service, many people extended their wishes that Austin and I would come back to see them again. I'm certain we have finally found our niche in this little church. The warmth and sincerity with which we were welcomed was priceless to me. It's hard to find the right "fit" with a new church, and its members are the very heart and soul of such a place. The spirit of God was in that church tonight, and displayed itself through the members of the congregation.
Before I finally say goodnight (or good morning as the case may be at this hour!), I want you to know that my wish for all of you tonight is to find peace, both within yourself, and with family and friends. May the spirit of the season fill you with joy and contentedness throughout the new year. God Bless you all and have a wonderful Christmas Day!