Friday, December 18, 2009


My favorite worship service of this season is the third Christmas Eve service. It's the one I most look forward to, and it's not (only) because it's the last one of the evening.

Here's what happens: Worship at 5:30 is loud and just a little chaotic ~ it's when most families with smaller children are able to come. Unlike on Sunday mornings, folks start arriving a little before 5:00, which means that I really ought to be here and ready to go by 4:00. People arrive early to the first two services, to make sure they have seats I suppose; but they don't stick around after worship like we do on Sunday mornings. When we're told to 'Go in peace', we take it seriously. Time to go home, have dinner, get the kids to bed, 'cause everyone knows they'll be up early tomorrow.

Between services, there's just enough time to sit down for a minute before starting to get ready for the 7:30 service, which hasn't been quite so loud, but comes right on the heels of the other. Making sure the acolytes and assisting minister and organist and ushers are all on the same page fills the time while worshipers are filling the pews.

The third service is much more calm. Outside it's dark, and there aren't many creatures stirring even out on the streets. Folks tend to show up for the 10:00 service around 9:55; I've preached the same sermon and gone through the liturgy twice by then, so I'm not stressed about any of that; whatever little children might be there are pretty sedate by that late hour; most of the folks who show up then are either regular members of the congregation, or active members somewhere else in town for the holiday. In my experience, folks who come to church only at Christmas and Easter every year tend to stay away from the late night service.

Plus, all the extraneous stuff that goes along with church is ignored. No committees, no arguments, no budget issues, no phone calls. Nothing else but Word and Sacrament.

There's nothing wrong with any other service on Christmas Eve, or through all the rest of the year. This third service, though ~ this late night when we celebrate the Incarnation ~ this is the one I look forward to perhaps more any other.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to it. I am glad I too get to participate in this service this year.