“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright ‘round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.”
Each face is aglow in the amber ring of candlelight. Each set of eyes twinkles with the flicker of the small flame. Each heart is full and warm with the message of peace on earth. Each family is brought closer to God and closer to one another as they stand together in almost perfect union. It’s one of the best moments of the year, one of the best memories of a lifetime.
It’s the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.
Those of you who have this as part of your Christmas tradition know just what I’m talking about. You know the beauty of the experience, and you know the spiritual strength, the special spiritual strength, you draw each Christmas in these precious moments of soft song and whispered prayer.
The world can be a cold, cruel place. We all know that to some degree. But there are glimpses even right here and right now that let us see beyond earthly existence to the transcendent joy of our future life with our Maker and those whom we hold so dear. Glimpses of heaven. “A foretaste of the feast to come,” the ancient communion liturgy calls it.
One of those glimpses happens every Christmas Eve when those of us who gather together for worship, carol singing, and prayers stand first silently, then in soft singing, and finally in subdued prayer, all the while holding and passing the great flame of faith that seals our hearts in peace once more.
“How do you ‘do’ Christmas and make it really mean something?” asked the young father who wanted to give his own children far more than the cheap exchange of mostly useless toys and throwaway things that he grew up with.
“Well,” I said, “I’d say the most important gift you can give your children for Christmas is the annual return to the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. They’ll know what Christmas really is after that, and all the rest will just be icing on the cake!”
“We’ll be there!” he said. “We’ll be there!”
What about you? As I said, many of you already know the blessing I’m talking about. How wonderful! But many of you may still not know. Many of you may still be trying to make sense out of Christmas and have found only frustration with the lie that “more stuff equals a happy Christmas.” Many of you may still have, even in this season of “joy,” the bitter taste of the loss of a loved one, or the brokenness of a marriage, or the hurt of a family torn apart, or the serious illness of someone so near and dear. Many of you may have again this year the empty feeling that comes with a life that’s hard and not really working out as you had planned. Many of you may be carrying the pain of parents whose children have disappointed you with poor decisions and disturbing life choices. What else might be keeping you from knowing deep in your heart the peace that you seek?
To all of you, yes to all of you, I give you here the very best gift I can give you in this season of giving: I give you my invitation to come to the place where it finally all makes sense, to church for Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. You won’t be disappointed. You won’t be left unfulfilled. You will be blessed and you will receive the peace for which your heart yearns. I promise you that God will take that moment, those moments, and fill them with His Love, His Power, His Grace, His Peace. And it is not just I who makes this promise. God make it. And God keeps it!
Many of our area churches are having these Christmas Eve Candlelight services. Find one and go. If it would be convenient for you, please know you are welcomed here at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Yes, our name says “Lutheran,” but we are here for everyone, lifelong Christians and those just now seeking something spiritual to hang onto. We’re located on Hwy. 314 in Fayetteville, between Lowe’s and The Pavilion Shopping Center. We’ll have three Christmas Eve Candlelight Services for your convenience, at 4, 8, and 11 p.m. The 4 p.m. is a Living Nativity with live animals.
I’d sure like to see what your face looks like in the candlelight, and you’d sure like to know what the true spirit of Christmas feels like in your heart.
Let’s find out together! I’ll see you Christmas Eve!
Kollmeyer is Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville on Hwy. 314, between Lowe’s and The Pavilion. Christmas Eve Candlelight Services are at 4 p.m. Living Nativity with live animals, 8 and 11 p.m. with Traditional Carols and Holy Communion. Sunday Services are at 9:15 a.m. (Contemporary), and 11:15 a.m. (Pipe Organ). For more information go to www.princeofpeacefayette.org