Even though I was a very young child at the time the memory is still quite vivid. Knox Oakville was holding its annual candlelight service and except for the candles in the windows, the church was in darkness. Then the choir processed down the centre aisle holding their lit candles singing the hymn they always did at the beginning of the candlelight service, “Once in Royal David’s City”.
As I just mentioned, I was quite young. Surrounded by all of the adults I really couldn’t see much of anything but even so it still had quite an impact on me. It is hard to convey but even after all of these years I still remember the sense of awe, wonder and even mystery I felt that night; that we were celebrating something truly special.
All of us of course are well acquainted with the Christmas story, especially as related in Luke’s gospel; there being no room in the inn, the angels and shepherds. To that we can also add Matthew’s story of the mysterious magi or wise men as we usually call them. These are an integral part of our Christmas celebrations and yet it is no mistake that the traditional gospel lesson commonly read at the end of the Christmas Eve service is taken from John’s gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John was not concerned about the details of Jesus’ birth but rather its meaning, and the beginning of John’s gospel captures some of the holy awe, wonder and mystery that is Christmas. Indeed I sometimes wonder if the more we try to understand and explain Christmas with all of its meaning, the less we really do understand; we either “get it” or we don’t.
Wishing you a most blessed and awesome Christmas!
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