"Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."
Silent night, holy night . . .
The family Christmas Eve service is anything but silent. Children, excited beyond measure about tomorrow, laugh and shout, talk and sing, with unfettered glee. The atmosphere is charged with joy.
All is calm, all is bright . . .
Calm? Anything, but.
Bright? Oh, yes! All those shining eyes and rosy cheeks of cherubic faces everywhere I turn. My heart is floating on air . . .
'Round yon virgin, mother and child . . .
A baby is wailing. Another chimes in. Their cries crescendo, then fade as mothers beat a hasty retreat from nave to narthex.
Holy infant so tender and mild . . .
Next to me, a young father cradles his infant daughter. She is dressed for the season in a red velveteen and lace dress, tights, and the tiniest Mary Jane shoes I've ever seen. Fast asleep, she is oblivious to all the commotion around her.
Sleep in heavenly peace . . .
The service is drawing to a close. The ushers who give us candles with our bulletins as we enter the church now travel the pews to light the ones of the persons sitting at the end.
They, in turn, light the candle of the person beside them.
And, so the light travels down the pew, from one to another.
As the candlelight spreads, the lights are dimmed. Even the children grow hushed, expectant, entranced by the glow of countless tiny flames.
Softly, reverently, the organ notes fill the air . . .
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright . . .
The candle flame blurs before my eyes. I can't stop the tears.
Tears of joy. Of wonder. Of awe.
I'm too choked up to sing with my voice, but my heart is singing with the angels in heaven.
Christ, the Savior, is born. Christ, the Savior, is born.
May the peace of God be with you this glorious Christmas Eve and always!
Psalms 45, 46
Revelation 22:12-17, 21
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