Tonight is my favorite church service of the year. I love Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve! It is one beautiful service that manages to completely encapsulate the season of Advent for me. It is one service where I definitely can feel Hope, Love, Peace and Joy.
Plus I love the symbolism of an entire church being filled with the soft warm glow of candlelight. The room starts completely dark except for the light coming from the Christ candle. Then the Christ candle lights one candle. That candle lights another candle. Until every candle in the room is lit. All the light having originated from one candle.
When the congregation sings Silent Night, I feel that song more than any other song the entire year. I would not be lying if I told you that at the end of the service when the bell strikes midnight and it is officially Christmas I always get goosebumps.
I hope your Christmas Eve is as wonderful as the one I believe that I will have.
I wanted to share a story from Andrea’s sermon on Sunday because I believe it is both funny and a story worth reflecting on during the Christmas season.
A guy was standing near a cliff all by himself. He was taken by a rush of courage and curiosity and moved close to the edge.
Then he moved a little closer.
The ground underneath his feet began to give a little bit, but then it seemed to hold.
He moved a little bit closer, just to get a little bit better look at the valley below.
The ground gave out underneath his feet and the man fell down the face of the cliff. But after only a few feet his hand caught a small root and his life was spared.
But it was only for a moment. It was a small root and it quickly began to give way as well.
The man shouted out, “Is there somebody up there that can help me? God if you are there, help me!”
Then the man heard the voice of God ask, “Do you have faith in me?”
The man replied, “Yes, of course. I have total faith in you.”
“Then let go.”
The man thought for a second and then shouted, “Is there anybody else up there?”
I got Mark’s newsletter this week:
By Mark Wolfram
Merry Christmas! It is that time of year again where we can rejoice and celebrate the birth of our Savior, who brings us peace, joy, and hope. In the season of Christmas it is easy to get caught up in all of the “stuff” that we have to do or things that are going on. I pray that God would help all of us remember why we celebrate, and that in this message we would find the peace that comes only from Jesus.
Here in Taiwan, there are many activities that I am involved with during Christmas time. I know I have written about some of these in the past, including various skits, songs, and Christmas parties. Last night was my personal highlight of the Christmas season: Christmas caroling. Teachers and students who live at school went outside of the campus last night and sang Christmas songs at some of the local businesses. Then we gathered together to sing to the faculty and staff that live here on the campus of Concordia Middle School. Walking on the streets with the guitar and hearing the students joyfully sing praises to God always warms my heart and brings a smile to my face.
In addition to the Christmas caroling, yesterday the students of Concordia Middle School decorated their Christmas trees. Every December, the school holds a Christmas tree decorating contest. Each class is given a tree or large bush in the central part of campus. They then need to create a tree based on a Bible story. Some popular stories include: Jesus feeds 5,000, Jesus turns water into wine, the parable of the lost sheep, and Noah’s ark.
Students work in their free time in the weeks leading up to Christmas to create items to put on the Christmas tree. Part of the goal of the competition is for students to make the tree using recyclable materials such as boxes, cans, and paper. They also can have lights, but they are not supposed to buy fancy decorations. Yesterday morning and afternoon students were outside working on their trees, and then in the evening, they lit up the trees. It was beautiful. The competition is also a great way to get the students excited about Christmas, read the Bible and build cooperation and teamwork.
The school leaves the decorations up for a couple of days and one of my favorite things to do during the days after Christmas is to walk outside in the evening. I usually wait until about 9:00 and I bring my I-pod and headphones. I then walk around and look at all of the trees as they light up the night. I will also take time to stop by each one of my classes and pray for the students in those classes.
I thank God for the chance to do this, and I rejoice at the mission of this school. Most schools in Taiwan don’t celebrate Christmas, and in fact they have school on Christmas day (we actually do too). However, for the students of CMS it is not just another part of the school year. It is a chance to celebrate and understand why Christmas is important. I pray that the message of Jesus’ birth will change the lives of these students, and give them new life in Jesus.
It’s Prayer Time!
1. Please pray for the students at CMS, that they will understand the true meaning of Christmas and believe it.
2. Praise God that my online classes have finished and that I will have a little bit more time in my schedule.
3. Please pray for my teaching. We will end the semester in a couple of weeks and pray that God will help me to end well and continue to show His love to my students.
4. Please pray for my Chinese language learning. That God would help my stay focused and work hard as I attempt to learn the language. Pray also that He would present opportunities for me to use Chinese as a witness to Him.
I wish you all the peace of Christ this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!!!
If I don’t see you before then, I hope that you all have a Merry Christmas!