Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is always a favorite time in the church. Our service started at 5pm. The Advent Wreath was ready for the lighting of the Christ candle. Families were sitting together; some, like ours, taking a whole pew. The sanctuary at Bethel was full of people. Even the balcony was full. On Sunday mornings there are a few in the balcony, but on Christmas Eve the balcony was filled with people.

Children were allowed to stay in the sanctuary as we sang through almost all the carols at least one verse. The Organist let go after waiting through Advent to open up that grand organ. It was magnificent.

A Dad and his daughter did their usual Christmas Eve duet- Do You Hear What I Hear? A soloist, a voice teacher in her own right, professor, stood at the piano and gave us "O Holy Night". Unbelievably beautiful.

I waited my turn to preach as my two associates read scripture and led worship. Then, I got up to read Luke 2. I don't know why, but I was moved. I'm always moved by Luke 2 and its beauty, but this time I nearly broke down. I had to work hard not to lose it. Emotion is fine, but I had to preach even if it was a short sermon.

I told about a boy who was playing a "magi" in the church play. The church was packed. The choir sang and narrators read. Then, the moment came for the boy's one line. For the life of him, he couldn't remember that line. After a moment, the boy next to him showed him the line. He tried to say the line but he couldn't get it out.

If he said it now, everyone would know he had messed up. So, standing there for what seemed like thirty minutes (really only one minute probably), he let the moment pass. The choir started up; he lived through it.

I said: "Slip in among those other boys and girls at the nativity. Forget all your lines; forget what you planned to say. Say nothing. Before such beauty, such wonder, there really is nothing more to say."

In the next moment, the sanctuary lights went out and the candles came up. And, we sang: "Silent Night; Holy Night". Then, we belted out: "Joy to the World", and went out into the night. It was cold and rainy. I looked to see if my "homeless" buddy was there; he was there last year. As I came out the door, he was there last year. But not this time. I walked to my car grateful to be just a small part of such a tremendous story, the story.

Merry Christmas,
Dave Nichols


  1. This is just a quick note mentioning that SpartanburgSpark.com is asking local bloggers about how and why they got started posting their thoughts online. The post is here: http://www.spartanburgspark.com/2009/01/local-bloggers-why-did-you-start-blogging/

  2. I started blogging to give our church and me as a pastor more internet coverage. As I understand it, if you're not on the internet, you're nonexistent to younger generations. So...



Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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