Christmas Eve: Light and Dark

Christmas Eve at The Congregational Church of Huntington can be seen as a study in contrasts. Noise and quiet. Light and dark. Crowds and solitude. We hold two very different worship services to welcome the coming of the Christ Child. The Pageant, at 5:30 PM, is full of children bursting with anticipation for Christmas. Then, at 10:00 PM, we gather as a much smaller group to quietly greet the Christ child with communion and candles.

This complex mix of behaviors and emotions does justice to the stories of Jesus’ birth. It was surely quiet and lonely for Mary and Joseph as they settled into the hay of the innkeeper’s barn. What a contrast to the arrival of shepherds with stories of angels and, eventually, kings bearing gifts from the east. The stable becomes quite full, and I would guess, unruly, with such an assortment of characters. Our ceramic crèche scenes capture the mob, but they all seem so peaceful and calm. I assume the first Christmas was anything but peaceful. Just imagine all those animals milling about, running into the people, stepping on their feet, and making all sorts of noises (not to mention the smells).

I like to picture the crèche in chaos. It affirms my hope. We often make the mistake of thinking that God only comes when we are calm, quiet, and our lives are altogether. Yet the history of God’s interaction with humanity demonstrates that fresh spiritual insights and bold actions for God’s world usually come in times of turmoil and challenge. It is the ability to affirm the goodness of God in the middle of confusion, or pain, that often gives us our greatest moments of growth. I pray that all will be calm and peaceful, but when it isn’t, I pray for strength to find the ones bearing gifts.

May you have a blessed Christmas and New Year!

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