In my last post I described the beauty of our little hometown church on Christmas Eve. The red of the Poinsettias, the green of the pine, and the glow of the candle light. Last year I cried through most of the service, this year I managed to hold it together; thoughts on what Larry might be experiencing in heaven. What celebrations must there be to remember the night that God became flesh and dwelt among us, becoming vulnerable for us? How petty and insignificant must our attempts appear to honor the birth of Christ. What is Christmas? Who or What do we get our definition from?
I found the Spirit of Christmas for a few brief moments on Christmas Eve. Not in the carols, even though I love to sing. Not in the sermon, (sorry Andy) even though the thought-provoking look at the nativity through Revelation was captivating. Dragons on Christmas Eve is definitely a new one. It wasn’t in the entrance of the lit Christ candle, I’m not even sure I noticed it being carried in. It wasn’t even in the traditional candlelight singing of Silent Night, although I felt the Spirit of Christmas all through that beautiful hymn…. felt the Spirit, didn’t sing much of the song. I found the Spirit of Christmas shortly after Pastor Andy talked about how the flame for the candles was going to be passed. I’d “heard” this every year for most of my life, but somehow I had never really heard it.
The flame that lit my little candle and every other candle, held by every other person in that sanctuary, was lit from the same source. The Christ candle. That may not seem like much, but to me that meant everything. I could see the Christ candle just 8 or so feet in front me, with its flame burning brightly. This year I looked at the larger candle coming down the aisle with the same anticipation I used to have on Christmas morning, what wondrous gift was coming my way? Excitement with a syncopated heartbeat. As soon as my candle was lit, I found it very difficult to look away. My sole focus was on the flame; mine and its source. All I could l see was my candle and the Christ candle… and the fact that my flame came from Christ’s flame was a connection that was amazing to me, almost overwhelming. I prayed the hymn would go on forever. When the service was over I heard candles being “puffed” out all around me, confused as to how they could do that so easily. My candle stayed lit until it became awkward for me to not blow it out, and when I did blow it out the whole church seemed to me to be a bit darker, even though the lights were back on.
For the first time in my life I held the true meaning of Christmas in my heart for those all too short moments. I can still feel them when I stop to think about it, but it’s not the same. When I held the light, the flame of Christ’s spirit, in my hand; when I had the flame that had been directly lit from His flame, I held the true meaning of Christ’s birth; for those moments I could feel Emmanuel – God with us – alive in my heart. I could feel Emmanuel inside my spirit, inside my soul. That is what Christmas is really all about, not giving pretty gifts or helping Santa save the day. Emmanuel Christmas is what you will not find on the 25 Days of Christmas Movies. But if everyone could feel what I felt on Christmas Eve, there would be a hunger to know Christ better, rather than the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the world would be one step closer to being the world God created it to be.
The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.