I am a Christmas Eve geek. I don’t often admit it as I get a lot of flack for it. No matter how jaded I feel about the state of the world, how mean people can be to one another or the nature of a seemingly aloof divinity, the rituals of Christmas Eve always inspire within me feelings of awe, wonder and connection.
I’ll be honest (and a touch heretical): it’s not the story of Jesus or even the magic of Santa that does it.
It began at the ripe old age of 13. Christmas Eve was head-back, pee-your-pants laughter with friends, as we ushered the Christmas Eve pageant (we once transformed the doxology into a heavy metal, head-banging chant to the chagrin of my beloved neighbor and head usher, Don Anderson). It was the smells of cold and pine and mint as I embraced friends, young and old, who I hadn’t seen. It was the nightingale sound of my mother, her voice rising above the chorus of “Silent Night” as she sang the descant. It was emerging from the snug, candlelit sanctuary into the rejuvenating crispness of a dark, wintry night and feeling reborn into the world. I love Christmas Eve for making our often invisible connections show up in embodied rituals.
When we create our Christmas Eve services, we want all who enter to experience those neglected connections and to live even a few moments by awe.
Over some thirty years, Christmas Eve has never disappointed, especially at Beacon. From the sacred words of Sophia Lyon Fahs (Each night a child is born is a holy night) and Howard Thurman (the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people, to make music in the heart) to the hallowed carols which would cause my termination if we didn’t sing them (“Angels We Have Heard on High” is at the top of the list). From the regular Sunday attendees to the once-a-year Beaconites. From gathering with our ushers for a simple dinner in between services to sharing a toast with worship leaders as we shut off the lights in the building for the night. From the crazy stuff that happens on Christmas Eve (Like people getting sick. In the lobby trash can. And then, dashing out the door before they could be spotted – or helped…). To the craziness of our weather (crisp, clear starlit nights; drizzling sleet and flurrying snow; balmy summerlike evenings which elicit flip flopped feet).
The images of our congregation on Christmas Eve stay with me all year long. I will often sit in the sanctuary and imagine our community with candles and voices raised to Silent Night. The contemplative connection of that moment renews my weariest of days.
This Christmas Eve – whether you are at Beacon or at home, whether you are being of service in the community or traveling to some near/far shore – we will light candles of joy, hope, courage, peace, grace and love. I will light one for you, for all of us, and for the awe and wonder of a winter’s night.
Our Christmas Eve services are 4 pm (pageant), 7 & 9 pm (lessons and carols).
Dates to Remember:
Sunday, January 6, 9:30 am/11 am: Don’t miss Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem’s bluegrass band!
Sunday, January 13, 9:30 am/11 am: Family Breakfast
Sunday, January 20, 9:30 am/11 am: SpiritLab returns
Sunday, February 24th through Sunday, April 7th: Spring Series of Children’s Small Groups
Saturday, April 27th evening: Passover Seder
Sunday, May 5, 9:30 am/11 am: Coming of Age (9th grade) Sunday
Sunday, June 2nd: Flower Communion Sunday