December 24, 2009

Dec. 24: Light bursts into the darkness

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By Greg Yoder, a senior music major from Perkasie, Pa.
SCRIPTURE: Colossians 3:12-17 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
Advent is a season of wonder, stillness, waiting and watching. Growing up with a pastor for a mother, I experienced richly the period of waiting and watching that is the Advent season. Every night we gathered in our living room. My brother and I ran around the house turning off the lights, and then we all gathered in front of the tree. My parents resolved whatever disputes there were about who got to light the Advent candles, then we sang. After we sang a few songs, it was time for my favorite part. My mother would get out a book of Christmas readings, poems or devotions, and she would read to us. In the darkness, the soft melody of her voice was comforting, and all seemed to be at peace.

On Christmas Eve, my family always shared a meal with some close family friends, then we all bundled up and headed to our church for a service of singing, readings and candle-lighting. At our church, the service ended the same way every year. The lights were turned off, and we passed a small flame from candle to candle, singing “Silent Night” as the circle of light grew. In that moment, it always seemed to me that we were on the verge of something incredible. The heavens were about to be ripped open, light was about to shatter the darkness, hope was about to come rushing in with gale force, but the moment of quiet anticipation was holy. I savored the peaceful darkness, always wishing we wouldn’t have to turn on the lights and go eat cookies.

Christmas Day can be busy and chaotic: the flash of cameras; shining, whirring toys; wrapping paper strewn about the floor; loud family dinners; laughter and music. This year, I’m going to let God burst into my Christmas celebration. May the holy peace of a world waiting for Jesus break out as you celebrate, too. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

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SCRIPTURE: Colossians 3:12-17 (NRSV)

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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Comments (7)

  1. As I head out to do last minute Christmas shopping, your description of the timeless memories created by annual Christmas eve services puts into perspective this day for me. I now look forward with greater anticipation to this evening’s service at our church, the singing of carols, the lighting of candles, preparing me to let Christ “break out” into my world, indeed, into the whole world with peace. Thanks, Greg, for these inspiring words.

    Jim Brenneman December 24, 2009 |
  2. What a memorable tradition of waiting–having the lights off and savoring the moments surrounding Christ’s birth.

    Phyllis Kehr December 24, 2009 |
  3. Thank you for your thoughtful, inspiring reflection. May the joy of this Christmas fill you with God’s love and peace.

    Merry Christmas,
    Ann Whitaker

    The Rev. Ann Whitaker December 24, 2009 |
  4. How blessed you are ,Greg, to have such an inspiring & beautiful background.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.
    All Advent I work hard to keep the true spirit of Advent alive in my home & being. You have added the crowning joy to my efforts.

    sister pat muller December 24, 2009 |
  5. what a brilliant tradition and memory

    Stu Buisch December 24, 2009 |
  6. Thanks so much for the text used in today’s devotional. It is the text we chose for our wedding 29 years ago – our anniversary is just around the corner. It brought tears to my eyes as I read the beautiful words reminding me of our marriage vows.
    Thanks for all the Advent devotionals which have guided me through this season. God bless you all.

    Carol December 25, 2009 |
  7. This was a beautiful description of Christmas Eve. We have had a different experience each year as we visit a different child each year, but we do appreciate how well you have worded your own experience and made it something for each of us to strive for in our own devotions.

    kitty Wilson January 2, 2010 |