There is, after all the hustle and bustle of preparing for another Christmas day, an amazing aura about Christmas Eve. Stores begin to close mid to late afternoon, traffic slows considerably, darkness sets in highlighting all the brightly beaming lights on lawns and houses, and a stillness grips the air that seems to be uncommon. It is, finally, Christmas Eve.
Wood for the special fire has been gathered for the fireplace. Packages mostly have been wrapped and either placed with care under the evergreen Christmas tree or stowed away secretly for a surprise Christmas morning. Soup, a special velvety blend, simmers on the stove; all sorts of goodies are everywhere, and the kitchen keepers are busy with last minute recipes, mixes and mouth-watering dishes soon to be enjoyed both on this special eve and then again, the day called Christmas. It is excitement in its purest form. Loved ones may still be traveling to arrive in time for that Christmas Eve service that has become a treasured tradition when, in the warmth of a well-lighted and gayly decorated building, a family of faith gathers to commemorate, sometimes with the glorious glow of only candles lit, to sing, recite scripture, worship and adore in sacred, hallowed moments God’s Christ, our Lord, who came as prophesied and who will come again as promised.
I always, as a teen, envied those churches that featured special choir presentations of music such as Handel’s Messiah. Years later, when living in Dallas, Ellen and I heard of a small Bible College in Ft. Worth that was featuring a Sunday afternoon rendition of this Christmas classic, so with three small children in tow, we made our way there, arriving in time for an almost back row seat, but enjoying for a couple hours, the Christ exalting, heavenly strains, Scripture set to music by the maestro George Frideric Handel, a composition originally intended for Easter that was completed from its inception in a matter of a very few weeks, a rendering of the Biblical accounts of His birth, His death and His resurrection that has thrilled hearts worldwide for almost three hundred years. It was the first time we had heard the heart-rending oratorio live and it is an experience that we never could forget. A small Bible college with limited facilities and probably few in number musicians honored Christ that Christmas in a way that choirs and churches and schools have been doing for centuries as the glorious story is perpetuated with sounds that universally stir the heart strings of believers year after year.
So, after all the gathering peoples have bedded down awaiting another glad Christmas morning, it has been my pleasure to tune in to some television feed of a “high church” usually locally and listen in as they sing the grand themes of the Christian Church, filling nooks and crannies of often high ceiled cathedrals with musical tributes celebrating the first Advent of God the Son. It is becoming increasingly difficult in our secular society to find sacred streamings of soul-stirring seasonal sounds that exalt Christ, the Savior of the world. But, thus far, the effort has paid off and it is worth it, even if one wonders whether those dedicated musicians, talented to the core, know Him of Whom they so beautifully sing.
Finally, with the stockings all hung in care, and the tree hunkered down for a quiet night before a busy, bustling early Christmas morning soon arrives, with sounds all silenced and doors safely secured, I quietly slip into bed thinking of the dreams on Christmas Eves past when as a child if you would hold your breath you could hear, at least you were sure you could hear, something on the roof astir. You drifted off, finally, with sugar plums dancing in your head, muffled sounds coming from downstairs where Mom and Dad’s bedroom was not realizing that they were sneaking around doing some last-minute preparations for another very merry Christmas Day, following a most wondrous Christmas Eve. May it never cease to send hallowed shivers through your soul as your reflect with joy upon Christmas Eves past; and may Christmas Eve 2020 be sanctified by His presence in your home and in your heart.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’” (Luke 2:13,14)