I’m not very religious. Growing up, I remember my family going to church occasionally; I was confirmed Methodist, for all the good it did.. Then it became Christmas, Easter, and whenever my grandparents were in town. Then my grandparents stopped traveling, and it became Christmas and Easter. Then Easter fell by the wayside and it was just Christmas. These days, I’m pretty much just an agnostic . . . but Christmas has stayed.
Because the Christmas Eve service is sacred to me, in a way that has nothing to do with Christianity or even necessarily with religion. Not the whole service, really — just the end. Where they light the candles from the central one and come down the aisles to light yours in turn, and then you light your neighbor’s candle and they light their neighbor’s and so on, and the sanctuary goes dark except for those little flickering flames, and everyone is singing.
That’s sacred. Sharing light in the midst of darkness.
(The only way it could be more perfect is if it happened on the winter solstice.)
So I’ll keep going to Christmas Eve service, because I need that moment in the depths of winter. I need the candles and the darkness and the sharing and the singing. I will keep resenting the church we go to in Dallas, where they don’t turn off the stupid LCD screens at the front of the sanctuary that advertise upcoming events or what hymn you’re supposed to turn to next, because dammit, I want the only light around me to be the little flickering flames. I will keep sharing that flame in the depths of night.
Whatever religion you celebrate — or lack thereof — I wish you light in the darkness, and the company of neighbors.
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