Christmas Day is cited by many to be their favorite holiday.
But for me, it has always been Christmas Eve.
Hearing the story of Jesus’ birth and the candlelight service are familiar and comforting.
Watching the candles illuminate the room while singing Silent Night is like a balm to my soul.
Peace and hope fill my heart.
Yet despite the familiarity of the service this year, something new caught my eye.
At the end of each row high above the pews, taper candles were lit by the acolyte before the service began.
As I listened to the songs and the scripture, I kept getting distracted by how some of the candles were burning quicker than the others.
The wax from one candle in particular had melted over the side of the pew, leaving only a small flame where a tall candle once stood.
This candle had burned brightly, but was gone even though others seemed to be just getting started.
Sometimes I wonder why these things catch my eye, but in those moments I know God has something to say.
This year some lights have burned out more quickly than others.
The unimaginable death of a young person that leaves a family with pain in their hearts so raw.
The end of a relationship that you thought would last.
The healthy person who now faces a terminal illness.
Words seem to be so inadequate in these moments.
Being present to surround those facing hardships with love, is at times, the most we can do.
And then there is this story.
The one I love to hear every year.
That is like a balm to my soul.
The one that fills my heart with peace and hope.
Because it is about the One who fills me with peace and hope.
“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket[a] and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,” they sang,[d] “and peace on earth for all those pleasing him.” Luke 2: 6-14 TLB
Friends, I don’t know what makes your heart ache today.
But the light of our Savior is one that will never go out.
May His story fill you with peace and hope today and in the New Year.