I always read the Advent thoughts that LABC puts out each year, and not only because a lot of them come from my family. This year, Brenda Farmer, or, as I like to call her, Mom, asked me if I might want to contribute. I was wary, as I am not sure I actually qualify for inclusion. Sure, my family has attended Lexington Avenue for going on 40 years, and they take up a pew or two. However, I’m not a member and I’ve been largely absent from Danville since I left for college in 1986. So, I thought about what the season means to me, our family traditions, and the assorted crazy holiday stories that would probably make a good book (if you’re curious, just ask any of us about our trip to Sneedville, Tennessee.
Surprisingly, I veered away from the funny and kept comingback to a constant that I can remember even back in my preschool days. The Christmas season was full of excitement, anticipation, and whirlwinds of activity, but on Christmas Eve, everything slowed down, at least for a few hours. Then, we would sit with the lights off, with only candles burning and the tree twinkling as Christmas music played. There may have been some conversation, but usually not much. When we moved to Danville, LABC took us in, and the first real tie I remember making to the place was at the 1979 candlelight service. I have probably been to30 of them since, but I still remember that one. It was quiet. It was peaceful. It was what I expected Christmas Eve to be like with my family. It was experiencing the same feelings of hope and togetherness that my parents and siblings got as the Johnny Mathis Christmas 8-track played - just bigger and with a slightly higher chance of things catching on fire.
I didn’t expect that service to become a part of our annual traditions, but it did. I haven’t missed many, but the ones I did were truly missed. I didn’t know it at the time, but that really introduced me to the meaning of a Church family. Two years ago, for the first time ever, I was away from home on Christmas Eve. Still, I tried to keep the tradition as best I could, even in a Seattle airport. Last year, I was here in Sitka, Alaska and it looks like that will be the case this year, too. There were still lights and music, still time to reflect, still time to think of family, friends, and what’s most important--peace on earth and good will toward all.