What is one of your favorite Christmas memories? It’s a question that is frequently asked in gathering at this time of the year. Last Sunday, Rod and I were on a Zoom gathering with his parents, siblings, and spouses, something we’ve done a few times in the midst of COVID-19 as a way to stay connected. The memory I shared with the Chamberlain clan was of our first Christmas as a married couple – three days after our wedding. Rod and I got up in the morning and began to establish our own traditions as a couple, stockings, reading the Bible, breakfast, then gifts. Our tree was pretty pathetic, and the branches sagged under the weight of the ornaments I’d made from egg-shaped “L’eggs” stockings containers. Rod opened a gift from his parents, the requisite package of underpants, which his mom had thoughtfully inscribed with his name on the waistbands with an indelible marker. That saved us from getting our undies mixed up in the wash. we still laugh about it to this day.
But that isn’t my very favorite Christmas memory. My favorite part of Christmas is the Christmas Eve worship service, and the memory goes back to the time I was a young child. Our family always attended Christmas Eve service, and my dad, two sisters, grandmother and sat in the pew we always sat in, while mom sat at the organ. When it came time for the candle-lighting, Rev (the name everyone affectionately called our minister) would step away from the pulpit and move to the side of the altar, which held the single Christ candle standing guard over the nativity set. The sanctuary lights were lowered until the only light in the room was that of the Christ candle. Then Rev, in his lovely tenor voice, would sing “Dear Little Stranger, Born in a Manger”.
The flickering flame of the candle became, in my mind, the Star of Bethlehem, and in the mystical imagination of a child, I was transported from Pittsburgh, PA, to a stable in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. Somehow, I knew deep in my bones that this story was true and real. As the light was passed from the Christ candle to the ushers’ candles, and then to each of us in the pews, the sublimely simple hymn “Silent Night” on our lips, we passed the light. Somehow, all together, there was enough light to go around.
In this dark time in our world, the story is still true and real, and if we courageously dare to share our little lights, there will be enough light to go around.
Although St. Paul’s Christmas Eve service will different this year, via Zoom, rather than in the sanctuary, the darkness of these times cannot overcome the light of Christ. Imagine candles being lit in houses all around our community, added to lights of candles from the Philippines, China, India, Egypt, Scotland, and Iceland; and from us to Mexico, Chile, and Hawaii. If you want to be a part of this blessed moment, please join us at 7:00 pm for our live worship at:
https://zoom.us/j/93970695025?pwd=WHMzYlcwZjc4eENabXlDV1lwUDRQUT09. Have a bit of bread, something to drink, and candles on hand for everyone in your household.
The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. ~ Anne