The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Night lights

"The candle stepped inside of me, bringing with it its fierce little flame"

I remember a candle on a cold, windy night. My family loaded food, presents and ourselves into the car and headed into the magic: Christmas Eve with my dad's relatives, Christmas Day with my mother's relatives — 24 hours of bliss. Bliss it was, if like me, you have always had a fine (if none-too-subtle) appreciation for presents.

Each year the whirlwind began with the 4:30 manger scene service. When we left for church dusk was always hanging nearby, ready to slip in while we worshiped. I have always liked the early darkness of midwinter and the sense of coziness that goes with it.

The manger scene service was held three times on Christmas Eve. In my memory, the service was always the same: Scriptur e, Christmas carols, and an actual, live Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. This is what separated the service from any of the children's programs held earlier — Jesus was real. Once, in a pinnacle of family glory, my aunt, uncle and cousin were chosen to step i nto the crèche for those three services.

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February issue


Embracing diversity