Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Silent Night Holy Night

Christmas Eve was special for our family. Mom would make a simple but delicious dinner and our Grandma always joined us.

After we finished eating it was always a mad dash to get ready for Church. Our family loved the Candlelight Christmas Eve service because it was an opportunity to gather to worship the Christ Child and to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

I can remember sitting with my brother and sisters quietly in the pew and anticipate our favorite part of the service. We would almost hold our breath as we eagerly watched the lights become dim and we would squirm with joy as we saw the ushers go forward to light their candles from the Christ Candle. Finally, they would come down the center aisle and light the candle of the first person in each pew. Then each person would carefully light the candle to the person next to them until the whole church was bathed in candlelight. I would glance around and look at my church family and we all seemed to be in awe of this “Holy Moment” in time. It wasn’t Holy because of candlelight but because we were remembering how God sent His only son, the King of the Universe to born in a manger. Our voices would lift together in worship singing “Silent Night” and it was peaceful and sacred.

After the church service we would go home and we would open our presents. We did not have much money and so there were not many presents, but we always were thankful for what we received. Mom and Dad had instilled in us at an early age that Christmas was not about the presents under the tree. It was about God giving us the most precious gift of His son Jesus Christ.

My senior year of college was the year of my DCE internship at a church in southern Minnesota. My family lived 7 hours away. In preparing for church work I knew that I would not be able to spend Christmas with my family because that is a busy time for church worker and I would have many responsibilities. Knowing this and experiencing being away from your family on Christmas for the first time was difficult for me.

I remember talking to my Mom on the phone and feeling down. It was hard on my Mom too but she never let on because she didn’t want me to feel worse. I told her that I would miss going to church with them on Christmas Eve. Mom gently reminded me that we would all be worshipping the Christ child, just in different places.

I was delighted when I found out that my internship church had the same tradition of lighting candles for singing Silent Night. During the service, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I gave thanks to God for my family. I was filled with joy because even though we were not together physically, our hearts were connected by a bond of love that could never be broken.

Now 20 years later, my husband and I have the same tradition with our two young sons. It has been a long time since my family of origin have all been together at Christmastime. But we feel bonded together by the tradition my parents created for our family over 40 years ago. We are bound together in a moment that transcends human understanding. We are connected by the extraordinary love of family during the miraculous, magical moments of Christmas.

The video is not the best quality, but I love this Christmas song.

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