It’s Christmas Eve at First Baptist Church Chattanooga and as usually happens at holiday services our church is brimming with people.  A large Christ candle in the middle of the Advent wreath is lit and the solemn service of Scripture and music begins to unfold the story of Jesus’ birth.  It’s a very old story that is ever new!

The final action of our service is dramatic. As we entered the sanctuary each of us was given a small candle.  Now the electric lights are extinguished, and we find ourselves sitting in an inky black sanctuary.  One by one we light each other’s candle.  Gradually the light consumes the darkness.  We turn around and lift our lighted tapers high and sing in unison Silent Night.

We get the unspoken message. One little light doesn’t give off much light but collectively we can shake off the shackles, of fear, hatred, and dishonesty.


As we offer our gifts, may our hearts and minds open to give compassion recklessly, criticism sparingly, and forgiveness unconditionally.

Post Note:

This service for me isn’t yet over.  I have one more tradition to honor. For the past five years my adopted Parker family and I crowd into one of the booths at the local Waffle House and indulge in whatever suits our fancy.


Below is a video of a sister church in Texas that captures the solemnity of this beloved Christmas Eve meditation.

Christmas Eve at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.