The Most Beautiful Night Of The Year
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The Most Beautiful Night Of The Year
Tonight is Christmas Eve. Our sanctuary is bathed in the light of jewel colors, candles flickering through multi-colored glass holders everywhere. All across the front of the altar rails and on window ledges, the lights shining in the darkness give a person the sense of being inside a lighted Christmas tree, somehow.
This is the most beautiful night of the year at St. Paul's inner-city church.
After all the familiar Scriptures about prophecy, angels, shepherds and the Holy Child of Bethlehem, after singing the beloved carols, we have opportunity to add to the soft glow of light. From the front of the sanctuary, the ushers light their wicks and turn to move slowly down the center aisle. They light the candle held by the person at the end of the pew and continue moving from one pew to the next. That first person in turn provides the flame for the candle of the next person in the row. And so the light spreads across the darkness like a ripple on water moving out from the center.
At this point I love to look around at all the faces illumined by candlelight. Those holding their candle flame close to their face glow the brightest in the dark. Clearly, I am witnessing a perfect illustration of the mission of the church. Each of us receives the Light of the world from another who is sharing the Light he has received. Isn't it amazing how one little flame can light a hundred candles or more? As long as one more wick needs to receive it, the Light is never exhausted. The original flame is not only not diminished, instead it multiplies as it is passed along to others.
Just before the final benediction, our pastor facing us from the altar seems to be stunned speechless for a moment. As he looks out over the congregation, he says softly,
"If only you could see what I see from here. You are all so beautiful!"
This is why we celebrate tonight and always. This is why the Savior Emmanuel, God with us, entered our dimension of time and space. His Advent brought light into a world in the darkness of sin and death. The light shines in darkness, we read and understand, and the darkness does not quench the light. In fact, the darker the darkness, the more brightly the tiniest light shines.
As easily---and carefully---as we pass the flame to the person beside us, we can share the Good News with our neighbor. That's what the Great Commission is all about, so simple even children can do it.
"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." ---Isaiah 9:2
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." ---John 8:12
Copyright 2007---Edy T Johnson
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Dear Friend, I read this again and enjoyed it even more. Such lovely descriptions and such a wonderful message.
This is lovely. It brought tears to my eyes. We just had our candlelight service a couple of days ago. Everything you said is not only accurate, but beautiful. The message is great, too.
Darkness cannot extinguish the light, but light can extinguish the darkness. We must remember that. Beautifully written!
Oh, Edy, this is so pretty! It is a reminder to me to be a light where I am. My school is full of shadows that I find hard to see when I'm there. But when I'm here or with like-minded people, I see more clearly...reading these kinds of things is a benefit to me. Your description of the candle-light service was beautiful. Thanks also for the comment on my article :)
So beautiful! I love candlelight services, and you described the scene and the spiritual application wonderfully. Merry Christmas!
So true, so true! The scene sounds so beautiful, and even the sight of it took the minister's breath away...as you wrote, he hesitated (probably to swallow the lump in his throat as the beauty of it all overwhelmed him with emotion. Nicely and beautifully done, Edy...and a blessed Christmas Holiday to you and yours. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, your friends.
Edy, your descriptions are absolutely lovely and your message priceless. I was worshiping right there with you and praying to be a candle to those around me. The front of our church is largely sections of glass and the candlelight reflected during the Christmas Eve service is an awesomely beautiful reminder of how our lives shoulr reflect our Master.
Edy, my friend, you are a master at painting word pictures. This very familiar scene from my own church life will now have more meaning and depth for me. Thank you. You are truly a God-inspired writer.
Makes me want to cry (sniff, sniff). That's exactly how it's still done in the church of my childhood in upstate New York. I, too, remember looking at the faces and thinking "they don't know how beautiful they are." Then I thought that's how God sees us, through the light of His Son, Jesus who makes us beautiful even when we know without that Light that we're not. What a beautiful piece, Edy. Thank you for writing it and posting it!
Edy, this is simply wonderful writing. I love your descriptions of the candles and the faces illuminated by them, followed by your insightful spiritual applications.
Edy - This is so well done and so beautiful, about the only thing I can say is "Praise God for His unspeakable gift - the matchless Name of Jesus". Your description of all those lights with the Good News of the Gospel clearly going forth reminds me of the productions of "The Singing Christmas Tree" with all the lights, and voices in song proclaiming Jesus as Savior and Lord. - Don
Edy, This is just beautiful. I really enjoyed the analogy of the candlelight service to the Great Commission. Thank you for sharing your light with us.