As a child, Christmas Eve was most definitely one of my favorite days of the year. I always found actual Christmas day quite boring. There is so much anticipation, and you wake up on Christmas morning and open your presents…and then what? Nap?
My favorite day was always Christmas Eve. My family did something fun like driving around neighborhoods to look at the marvelous light displays with the windows down. We brought blankets and gloves and hot chocolate in to-go cups so we could feel its warmth (even if it was 75 degrees, it was about the VIBE of Christmas). And on Christmas Eve, I could always convince my parents to let each of us open just ONE gift.
But before that, it was time for the Christmas Eve service. I think about the velvet dress (ugh!), pantyhose (ugh!), and patent leather shoes (ugh!!!) my mom always forced me into each Christmas Eve.
I most definitely think about walking (or more likely, running) into the sanctuary to the smell of the hanging greens and the REAL Christmas tree my mom never let us have in our living room. I remember having to wait to get my candle from the basket because I was there three hours early for band practice (the plight of life as a pastor’s kid).
And during the service, I remember being scared as we lit my candle–would my hair, hairsprayed to perfection, be the catalyst for an unforgettable chaos to spread through the room as I stopped, dropped, and rolled to put it out? What if the wax came dripping down past the catcher and burned my hands? Would I drop it and set the entire sanctuary aflame on such an important day? Would the deacons come running down each aisle with their coats to stamp out the flames? Would the band have to stop playing Silent Night, because this Night wasn’t very Silent at all?
But I never did drop my candle. My hair never did ignite. Each year, I shared my flame with my neighbor. I felt its warmth. I turned to watch the warm glow spread across each row, and eventually the entire sanctuary, as each and every person shared the warmth and light with their neighbor, and sang in one voice.
This year, I encourage you to share the warmth and light of your candle! Share your flame with your neighbor. You might feel the wax drip down your finger, but your sanctuary won’t go up in flames (but I’ll be on call with my coat, just in case it does).
Rev. Masyn Evans-Clements