Candlelight Service
New Life Baptist
Phoenix, AZ
I don’t know what the holiday season tends to look like for the rest of you, but my family’s fills up quickly.
Between the middle of November and the middle of January, my family celebrates seven birthdays (two brothers, one sister, one brother-in-law, one niece, and two nephews).
In that same time period come my church’s annual Christmas dinner and auction fundraiser for overseas missions, the annual children’s Christmas party, the children’s Christmas play, work Christmas parties, Christmas Eve with my cousin, breakfast Christmas morning with my oldest sister, and a list of other things I am sure I forgot.
Not trying to compare, just explain.

It never fails that December 23rd is the day my brain is fried and wants to check out until the end of the season.
That is why I am so thankful that my church’s traditional Candlelight service has been falling on that night for a few years now.
The service itself is no frills – a capella Christmas carols interspersed between the verses in the gospels that tell the story of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Sometimes the readers are asked beforehand, and sometimes our pastor asks for volunteers as the service progresses.
Once the account has been read, we shut off the light switches, and light candles to remind us of the truths that Jesus was the light that came into the world on the night he was born, and because we have been born again, we are the light that continues to shine in this world.

I’m thankful for the time Candlelight Service gives me to be still.
More than that… to rest.
To unclog ears that have become plugged up with the wax of the world that has been building up so silently.
To sink into my chair and listen the way I did when one of my grandparents (or parents, or siblings) read the story out of Matthew on Christmas morning when I was a little girl – with a wide open heart, soaking in every dip, rise, falter, and sigh.
In a couple of hours, Christmas breakfast would be in full swing with aunts, uncles, and cousins everywhere, but those moments were peaceful.
It prepared my heart for what was to come that day, and now Candlelight Service helps prepare my heart for what lies ahead in the upcoming weeks and months.

So as this season comes to a close, I hope you are able to find time to be still, to take stock, and let your heart prepare for 2015.
I pray blessings are heaped upon you.
I pray for good health for you and those you love.
I pray wisdom for you in all decisions you make in 2015 – large, small, and in between.
I pray for the strength to rise and move forward if something comes along that knocks you down and off your path.
And I pray that love and grace would abound in your hearts and the hearts of those around you.