/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
(Great job, KevinOQ. What a terrific photo!)

Last night was the Lessons and Carols service at our church, and I must confess, I didn’t really feel like going. No, I hadn’t turned into Mrs. Grinch, with termites in my smile and garlic in my soul. It had been a busy weekend, we’d already been to Sunday school and church that morning, and I just wanted to slouch around the house and finish the crossword and try not to think about how many calories I’d ingested in all those Christmas cookies I saved from Tanner. Plus, I occasionally like to pretend I’m a hermit. The service attracts huge crowds of people I’ve never even seen before, and lots of folks get there an hour early just to secure a pew up front.
Ugh, crowds.
Also, there’s the candle thing. It’s probably because of the years I spent teaching chemistry, but the thought of hundreds of candles held by preschoolers and old people with shaky hands and women with so much hair…it made me nervous. Or maybe it was an excuse.
I just didn’t feel like fooling with the whole thing.

“But it’s the candlelight service,” Sarah said. “You don’t really want to miss that.”
I sort of did, to tell the truth. But we went anyway.

It was exquisite.
The children reading the scripture, the big extended families taking up entire pews, the little ones bouncing off the walls, the glow of the candlelight on faces of people I’ve loved since my college student was a pink newborn.

I love how the sanctuary gets darker and darker as the lessons and carols advance, until virtually the only light is the one flickering from the advent wreath. Then, as we take the light from the Christ candle and share it with each other, the room brightens again. What a lovely symbol!

That reminds me. The winter solstice is today. Did you know?
I’m so glad that early Christians chose to put Christmas right around the time of the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, the return of light after the longest night of the year. In fact my wonderfully geeky husband is so delighted with the timing that a few years ago he started an annual bonfire celebration in our backyard. It’s a chance to trade the Christmas cookies for marshmallow roasting for a night, and to celebrate the transition of darkness into light.
We may be the only Baptists on the block adding a little solstice to our Christmas cheer, but it seems to me like a perfect fit.

In case you’re not planning to fire up your own yule log, I brought you one. Enjoy the light!
Love, Becky