On Christmas Eve, we will gather with those in our church family who are in town for Christmas. Some will bring family members who are visiting with them. Others will slip away from festivities to spend a few minutes with us. We will meet in our church sanctuary for a beautiful candlelight service. Nothing fancy. Just a few songs and a quick devotional thought before we all go our separate ways again.
The service rarely lasts more than forty-five minutes, but it is amazing the tone those few minutes set for our entire Christmas celebration. Oh, the gifts are highly anticipated, to be sure. And all the excitement is thoroughly enjoyed. But somehow, even at a young age, that brief service has always set my children’s minds in the direction of service and worship above all else.
It is not just the service that sets the tone. The real catalyst is the interaction of people pulling away from the chaos to establish a focus. For most, it is a sacrifice to be there. There is a food preparation list a mile long. Children do not want to leave their games and toys. It can just be easier to stay home. Yet every year, people have discovered the blessing. There is a longing for that moment of peaceful and joyful interaction in the midst of the Christmas busyness.
The Tools of Christmas Focus
When we are in the midst of the busyness, it is often easy to forget that we have the tools we need to find that moment of peace. We simply need to take the moment to pull away from the chaos and intentionally establish a focus.
A formal Christmas Eve service is not required to establish that focus. All you need is a little boldness and a desire to start your celebration in joyful communion with others. Here are some suggestions:
- Make the Christmas story and a few carols the first activity of your gathering. Breathe life into it by finding a natural storyteller to share the familiar story.
- Encourage the children to prepare a live nativity presentation, complete with creative costumes.
- Have everyone share a word of thanksgiving.
- Pray over one another before eating or opening gifts.
- Sing “Silent Night” by candlelight.
Whatever you do, make a big deal of it. Get the children involved. Focus on it. Draw attention to it. Avoid making it feel like you’re just throwing it in there to give lip-service to “keeping Christ in Christmas.” Make this moment, no matter how brief, the highlight of your time together.
I’m smiling right now just thinking about our Christmas Eve service. I look forward to this service almost more than anything else our church family does during the Christmas season. I pray that this year, you will find a similar moment of focus.