December Blog – Women's Ministry

December Blog – Women's Ministry

I love Christmas. Many times, I have been in groups the last couple of weeks and asked what my favorite Christmas memory or tradition is. It hasn’t taken me long to page back to my childhood and recall Christmas Eve with my family.

As the tatter pages in my mind turn back the vision becomes clear, seems like I am right there with all the smells and feel of the night …

Dinner was served; a simple dinner tradition from my grandfather and grandmother on my mom’s side wrestled its way to the table. The table was set with bowls and flatware, Christmas napkins, our drinks, saltine crackers, a bowl of shredded cheddar cheese, and some homemade bread with real butter. The main dish carried the tradition forward into our family. The smell was rich as it filled the kitchen eating area – my grandmother’s recipe for homemade chili soup. We would all take our place at the table; our nightly dinner prayer was given by my dad. The Christmas tree was lit and stood against the south wall in the living room just a few feet away. My mom’s favorite Christmas candles stood on each of the windowsills around the exterior of our home. We sat around the oblong table, talked, laughed and enjoyed our dinner. I especially loved the bread and butter; it was warm and almost melted in my mouth. Then we would get up from the table, clear the dishes and tidy the kitchen. Relax, maybe watch a Christmas special, then put on our good clothes.

Around 10:30 PM we piled in my parent’s car and headed toward downtown Colorado Springs. The streets were usually very quiet, the car seats were cold, and we could see our breath with each exhale. We admired the Christmas lights that were still on homes as we drove by. It was quiet, then we parked at the church on the corner of Platte and Cascade Avenues. In those days we wore dresses to church, day or night, cold or hot, always a dress. As we came through the double doors, I was always relieved to feel the heat of the building. Cordial hellos were extended to friends we passed by. The carpet was red through the hallway, past the gym, and through another set of heavy wood doors. This found us in the wide hall outside the sanctuary. Poinsettias were placed around; the hallway lights were dim. We passed by the first set of stairs and headed to the second set taking time to peer down the center aisle of the sanctuary. It was beautiful. Hurricane candles were set on posts, decorated with fresh garland at the end of each pew. More poinsettias were inside toward the front, and the organist played beautiful music. The notes would carry in rich tones that only pipe-organ can replicate as it is played. We went to the second set of stairs where the railing was decorated too.

As we got to the top of the steps, we entered another short hallway and into the balcony of the sanctuary. There was no doubt that this felt sacred. We sang traditional Christmas songs from the hymnal (do you remember those ladies?) One of the pastors would read the Christmas story, then give a short message. The room would get warm as the ushers went forward with precision. Each would light a white candle and walk back down both sides of each section of pews. The person on the end of each aisle would light their candle and pass the light on from person to person. What a breath-taking sight from the balcony. When all the candles were lit, the lights were turned down very low, barely showing any light at all. The pastor would ask us to hold our candles up and sing Away in a Manger. As the song ended, we would blow out our candles … it was midnight, Christmas morning and the birth of our Savior was celebrated. The pastor would wish us all a Merry Christmas.

Our hearts were warm, our souls ignited as we walked from our pews back to our cars and the trip home. Snuggled in bed between 12:30 and 1 AM, we slept in peace because the King of Kings and Lord of Lords sat in that place with us that night and heard the celebration of our hearts for Him.