Christmas Eve worship is a moment to connect to both the light and dark in our lives, and in God’s promises. Our inner life yearns for acknowledgement of that duality.
A Christmas Eve worship service often includes familiar carols, sung by folks lining the pews, looking towards the altar. I have spent many Christmas Eves doing the same, with family, with friends, or alone- and in my mind’s eye I will see so many of them when the familiar sound of Silent Night begins. I see my father, mother, and grandparents singing together. My father would take the bass line, and of course, I will bring the Alto in for at least the middle verses. I have memories of singing with my late husband, Gary, and with much smaller versions of my children.
We make memories through sound, and smell and touch- sight and taste as well. I smell the cough drops my mother kept in her pocket. The pine from the church christmas tree is there as well. The lights from the candles, held lit by the whole congregation sends me back to memory of shock, and pride for being trusted to hold my own lighted candle as a young girl.
Folks with more degrees than I have tell us that memories are triggered by these sensory moments. Perhaps tears will come to your eyes as a particular memory arises. There is no shame in that. The layers of memories past will merge with the moment, my friends, and I have no doubt a smile will come to your face, even if the sadness and loss seem palpable.
The act of worship on Christmas Eve connects us to the world. A world filled with people in pain, sorrow and joy. They are like you. They are like us. God’s love is meant for us all, friends, and none is more worthy or less worthy than another.
Reach out for this liminal time, friends – a time of past, present and future – where the word of God endures. See you at church.
Holy Cross Lutheran Christmas Eve service is tonight, December 24th at 7 pm. See you there. 1998 Lansing Ave NE, Salem, Or 97301. www.holycrosslutheran-salem.org