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Christmas Eve Memory

Candlelight!  Communion!  Reverence!  Awe!  Joy!

They were all there at the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 10:00 p.m. at Central Westside United Church as we celebrated the birth of our saviour, Jesus the Christ.

The service began with the feeling of hope inspired by Bruce Steer’s lovely saxophone solo, “He is Born”  The clear bright voice of Krista Adair singing “The Angel’s Carol” continued the musical offerings.  One of our traditions is to welcome home former members who have travelled on to new places they now call home, and to invite them to help in worship, and so, Murray Rice, home from Toronto, sang an arrangement of two Christmas songs, “Infant Holy and Silent Night”.  A little later the choir presented their rendition of the beautiful Austrian carol “Still, Still, Still”.  All of the musical guests were  accompanied by Judy Pringle on the organ.

Glenn and Helen Hepburn relit the four coloured Advent Candles before lighting the white Christ Candle in the centre of the arrangement to complete the set.

The bible readings told the Christmas story from hopeful times before Christ’s birth, to “between times”, to the Luke story of Christ’s birth.  Readers were Helen Hepburn, Bruce Steer and Terri-Lynn Jackson.

This Communion service is one of the loveliest of the year because of its simpleness and its universal invitation to worship Christ, the Newborn King.  As worshippers line up for the elements at the front of the church there is a palpable sense of unity and of coming home.  It is usually very quiet.

People return to their seats with an air of expectation of good things to come.  The individual candles which were handed out upon entering the church are now lit, the flame being handed from one person to the next, as we sing “Silent Night”.  The lights in the sanctuary are dimmed, leaving only the sparkling white garland lights around the balcony and the choir loft, the Christ candle grouping, and the shining beacon of the back-lit double crosses behind the organ.  The candlelit faces reflect reverence.

As the carol ends and the organ plays the postlude it seems that no one wants to leave this sacred space.  Jennifer, ever the hostess, goes to the kitchen to prepare the apple cider and cut the Christ cake.  The people are in a reverie of some sort.  Still no one stirs.  It has become a moment frozen in time, a magical Christmas memory.  If Jennifer hadn’t returned to the sanctuary and switched on the lights is it possible that we would have met the morning still that way, or did we meet something more eternal in those moments?

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”.

Rosemary Fenwick

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