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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

It is the third day of Christmas and since the second day of Christmas is also a holiday here in Sweden, we've had some time to relax and pause after the hectic days of celebrating Christmas.  It was a wonderful few days for us however and I feel really satisfied and content with my journey through advent this year.  I am also happy for the quiet days that follow the high season as we look forward now to another year unfolding before us.
Doug preached on the 4th of Advent in a service that was full of joy and great music.  The sanctuary was packed full to the brim as people from all over the world gathered to celebrate the coming Christ child.  Sunday night was filled with baking cookies and making candy and a cheesecake in preparation for the celebrations that were to follow on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  There was also my Christmas Eve sermon that needed some last minute touching up so it was a full day.  Christmas Eve morning was filled with final sermon preparations and present wrapping.  Then we were off to church!
Held in the large sanctuary upstairs, the service was just lovely.  Candles surrounded us on all sides in addition to the altar candles and the advent candles and the Christ candle.  It was finally time to have 4 Advent candles lit alongside of the Christ candle.  A series of lessons and carols mark the evening and this year we enjoyed a special treat from a professional Chinese opera singer who is part of our church.  He sang two songs, including O Holy Night and it was simply divine.  My other favorite duo, Chris and Doug, sang Shepherd's Watch from Michael Card's The Promise.  They are, hands down, my favorite duo ever and I just love it when they sing together.  I posted my sermon in an earlier post.  If you'd like to read it, click here.  My theme was focused on the notion that there is really nothing humankind can do to keep God out of Christmas.  It's an important promise when the world looks darker and darker.
The service ends with Doug and I lighting our candles from the Christ candle and then passing that lit flame to all in the congregation who have obtained a candle for themselves.  We shared the words, Christ is the Light of the World, no go and be the same.  We sing carols reflecting the light of Christ, ending with Silent Night as the sanctuary is illuminated with candlelight and filled with the beauty of God's people singing his praise.
Christmas Eve is a special time.  I treasure our worship service and the time spent in the company of others.  It is a gift and privilege to serve our church in this way.