(The following is what I wrote for the Christmas supplement in the local paper - The Independant)
I think of our Christmas Eve service at St. Paul’s. We start by lighting the Advent candles, which we have been lighting one by one over the last 4 weeks. And then we light the Christ candle, which in St. Paul’s case because we have a wreath that only allows for four candles, is the Paschal candle. We move into the service proper, which includes the Gospel reading from John 1:1-14 read from the King James translation of the Bible. We celebrate the Eucharist, which is truly a family event this night. And finally, we light our candles and stand in the candle light singing Silent Night. It is one of my favourite services of the year.
The above are all traditions – traditions that set this night apart from all others. We will have come through a time, four weeks, of preparing for this special night. Somehow, following the traditions of the years past make this night one of even more significance. The keeping of these traditions reminds us that the coming of the Christ child was not just for those who lived two thousand years ago, nor is it just for those of us alive today. It is for all peoples throughout history.
When we think of the various carols that we sing we recognize that this event is not just for humans but for the cosmos as well. We sing about stars and angels, about humans and animals. We hear about angels visiting shepherds in the fields. This was surely not a very quiet event. I know, if an angel suddenly appeared and spoke to me in such a manner, my heart would be racing and I would be shaking in fear and anticipation. Certainly an angel chorus singing Glory to God in the highest and peace to all people on earth would not exactly be a hushed event.
Yet, the moment that stands out for me each Christmas Eve is the moment when I look out over the congregation and see the candles lit and hear each voice softly singing Silent Night. Somehow this defines Christmas for me. I think that it is the hush and reverence of the moment. We stand in quiet awe of the magnitude of this gift from God – this humble beginning of the Son of God entering into human lives in such an intimate way that quietly impacts all our hearts and lives. Knowing at Christmas what is to come from this birth we can do little more than stand in hushed expectation and celebration. Mere words cannot describe the moment and so we rely on our traditions to express what we think and feel this most special of nights – Silent night. Holy night. Son of God, love’s pure light.
Love and Prayers,Ann Marie +