Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Lord Will Light My Candle

The other night my husband and I attended a “Candle Light” service at our daughter’s church. It was Christmas Eve and everyone was in a good mood. I watched as people greeted each other with handshakes and hugs, and a hearty “Merry Christmas”. I myself felt a warm fuzzy feeling of contentment as I sat beside my husband in the decorated church, waiting for the service to begin. The pastor of the church, dressed in a cheerful red sweater and slacks was walking amongst the crowded sanctuary patting shoulders and shaking hands, and having friendly conversations with people, and he also gave us a special greeting as he said,…“well hello there,… Lisa’s parents!” Then he proceeded with a smile to say that he knew who we were but he just couldn’t remember our names. I didn’t care if he knew our names or not, because he had singled us out and tried to make us feel welcomed.

I thought of how Jesus would walk amongst the crowds of people who followed him. Each person had a special need, and most of them were hoping that Jesus would meet that need by touching their infirmity with his healing hands. Some people were just curious about this man who had grown up amongst them as a carpenter’s son, but now was rumored to be endowed with special power. I pictured in my mind what it would have been like to be there with Jesus.

What had brought me to this service and what was I hoping to bring away from it? Well since our daughter’s husband is the youth pastor there, we have often gone to special services there,… like when our granddaughter was in a program, or when our daughter was singing in the choir, or when the Vacation Bible School program was presented at the end of a week of Bible School that several of our grandkids had attended. We have been there when our son-in-law was installed as a deacon, and then later when he was ordained as a pastor. But this night my husband and I were seeking the baby Jesus as the shepherds had done.

Earlier in the day my husband asked me if I would like to go to the Christmas Eve Candle Light service at Lisa’s church, since our church had prayer meeting the night before but they were not having a Christmas Eve service. As empty nesters we were quietly sitting together with our coffee in hand, doing our morning devotion time, and I thought that it sounded nice, so I said sure let’s go!

So here we were, candles in our hands. I was ready for the Lord to,…“light my candle!” My 16 year old granddaughter was happy to see us and she gave us her warm hugs and she and her friend sat next to grandpa. I was thankful for the gift of this teenage granddaughter, who came to us through adoption 16 Christmases ago.

We started off by singing Christmas Carols and that was fun. There were a couple of special songs from the choir and I looked at our beautiful daughter up there singing her heart out for the Lord,…and my heart was filled with love for the gift of this daughter, and for the way that she loves Jesus.

Then there was a my handsome son-in-law who came up front and welcomed everyone and then he shared his special memories of growing up in church and attending many of these candle light services. He said that they were always special to him and among his favorite Christmas time memories as a child. I found myself thanking God for this gift of a Christian son-in-law who loves the Lord, and loves my daughter and granddaughter.

There was also an elderly lady who told her story of the best Christmas she ever had. Her mother was a nurse and was working for 25 cents an hour trying to support the family since her father had passed away. To make more money the mother had to move away so that she could work in a hospital, and it was hard to leave her children behind in the care of someone else, but she had to do it. The elderly lady telling the story said she had a little sister and also one that had passed away, she had felt much sorrow in her young life. What did she want for Christmas? Well she had always wanted a piano and a bike, but didn‘t have much hope of ever having them. But that Christmas she got both. Before her father died he had made arrangements with someone to purchase a piano for her and she received it,…as well as a bicycle! Does Jesus know how to give us the desires of our hearts,… or what!??….(:>) I thanked the Lord for the gift of this dear lady’s story.

As things continued and we were thinking about the pregnant Mary about to give birth to the Lord Jesus, a pregnant lady stepped out of the choir for a solo. We had prayed for this very lady as just days before she had surgery to remove her gallbladder even though she was big with child,…and here she was singing to the Lord! Thank you for the gift of this lady, and the answer to our prayers, as she and the baby came through the ordeal safely.

“Mary Did You Know?” was one of the solos we heard that night and I think this is one of my favorite Christmas songs. What must it have been like to bring the son of God into this world? It is no wonder that the Bible says she pondered all of these things in her heart!

The pastor read the Christmas message as a man played a guitar softly in the background. It stirred my heart once again, as if I was hearing it for the first time. My husband took my hand and squeezed it as we listened to this amazing story of the greatest gift ever given.

An offering was received to help needy families on Christmas and as it was collected a little girl played her violin, and it was fantastic! My heart had been greatly moved by this entire service,…like the Lord had lit my candle!

But as is customary, the pastor and his wife lit their candles and moved among the congregation lighting the person’s candle on the end of each row and in turn we shared the light with one another and a warm glow filled the church. I pray that the Lord will light your candle too, at this most blessed time of the year!