Christmas Memories: Candlelight Service
We’re so close now, guys. We’re only one week away from Christmas! We’re still waiting on some gifts to arrive, which is stressful, I’m still not done with my gift for Dad, which is more stressful, but no time to slow down now! Every day from now to next Saturday is booked up with family activities and Christmasy fun. We’ve finally finalized our Christmas plans and there is nothing left to do but ride the wave through Christmas and into the new year.
Christmas plans were so much easier when I was single. I’m sure that’s true of many of you as well. When you only had your own family to worry about and they’re Christmas plans had been set in stone and repeated so many times you knew them before the season had even began. Don’t get me wrong, I love being married, and I love all the shiny new Christmas things that we do, but one of my favorite Christmas memories comes from the time before complicated plans. The Candlelight service at my uncle’s church.
My uncle was a pastor at a small Methodist church in Beaver Falls when I was growing up. We did all sorts of youth activities with them there and went camping with them every year. But my favorite thing about the church was the candlelight service they did for Christmas Eve every year. It’s one of those things you don’t appreciate until you look back at it. Every year we’d dress up in our nice Christmas clothes, bundle up, and drive out to my uncle’s church to meet the family. My mom’s whole family would go together. We would sit and listen to my uncle preach and then do communion. My first communion was during the candlelight service. My uncle and his wife would stand in the front with the cup and the bread and we would process down to eat and drink and then move along the outer wall where someone was passing out candles. We’d line the church all the way around and then the lighting began, spreading up both sides of the church; candle to candle. Once the candles were all lit we would sing Silent Night and pray. It was really a beautiful service and I wish I could remember more of it. And I wish it was still there for me to attend.
My uncle moved away at some point while I was in middle school, transferred to another church. We didn’t go to the candlelight service after that. We started going to our home church’s Christmas Eve service, which, for all it’s pomp and flash, was never quite the same. Not even close. By the time I was old enough to appreciate the simplicity in the candlelight service, the beauty of it, the meaning in it, there wasn’t a service to go to anymore, and that’s sad. There aren’t many things I’d wish to relive from my childhood as an adult, but that is one of them. If I had the chance to go back in time and attend the service as I am now, I would do it.
So I know what you’re thinking. Why not just find another candlelight service to go to? Other people do them too. But the thing is, it wouldn’t mean anything to go to some random service at some random church. The memories from my childhood are special because it was my mom’s whole family, my uncle speaking and my cousins on all sides. It was a family thing we shared every year. It was beautiful because we were together. Other candlelight services are lovely as well, I’m sure, but they aren’t that one. They aren’t in a church I grew up in, with people I love. It’s that recreation that I’m looking for, which, I suppose I couldn’t really get going back in time anyway. But, a girl can dream.