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Advent: Lighting the Way for the Sacred

One by one, candles were lit, pinpoints of light leading the way to the grand celebration of the birth of the Christ child – midnight mass. Golden light shone from the tops of paper bags glowing with warmth. Every year we celebrated this way, a coming together of community from all different denominations, a celebration of light and life.

Prior to the lighting of the luminaries, we’d gather for a holiday meal at my best friend’s house, a true celebration of friendship. My friend and her family attended the Baptist church next door to our church, the Catholic church where the midnight celebration was held. Yet every year after our dinner filled with conversation and laughter, coats, hats, mittens and boots would be donned to ward against the chill outdoors.

Out into the dark winter night we’d go, snow crunching under our feet as we walked down the street together, lighting a candle in front of each house. Other neighbors joined in the lighting ritual. Soon the entire street was aglow with candlelight flickering in the shimmering snow. It didn’t take long to light them. Despite the cold, we’d linger outdoors enjoying the beauty of candlelight against the hushed winter landscape.

Shivering from the night air, we’d begin to head back to our homes. Christmas greetings and well wishes were given. My family would once again head to my friend’s home, where we’d warm up with hot chocolate, before heading home to prepare for mass. Every now and then my friend and her family would join us.

These childhood Christmas memories are of a time of celebration and anticipation for the birth of the Christ child. The memories are vivid – the fellowship, the candle lighting, and the mass. All steeped in the sacredness of that night. Didn’t matter the denomination, didn’t matter the church, we came together to celebrate God being born into flesh. We celebrated this baby born to redeem the world – Jesus. Our Jesus. In our small way on Christmas Eve, we lit the way for the Light of the World.

“The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.”     Isaiah 9:2

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying,
“I am the Light of the world;
he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness,
but will have the Light of life.”  John 8:12

May his light shine brightly upon you this Christmas!

I’d love to hear how you celebrate the sacred this Advent season.

Photo: Radiance by Somesoul at Deviantart.com

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