One of the favorite services of the year for most of our members is the candlelight Christmas Eve service. It’s amazing how much musical talent we have in our church and some of this talent is always on display at this service.
Latecomers missed Hannah Safley singing “Away in a Manger.” I wonder how many of those great talents on “The Voice” got their start singing in church at age four. In case you missed it, here is a link to her debut: https://video-atl3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t42.1790-2/25650686_158667331567114_6061037176437604352_n.mp4?efg=eyJybHIiOjM4OCwicmxhIjo1MTIsInZlbmNvZGVfdGFnIjoic3ZlX3NkIn0%3D&rl=388&vabr=216&oh=0995f74f860865a301ec1ff0ee0de0c2&oe=5A52CCA5&ref=tahoe
Just think, just a few years ago, she was a part of the chorus of babies crying during the Christmas Eve service.
This is one service we have resisted having a nursery for because it’s difficult to get people to work on Christmas Eve. We want the service to be as family oriented as possible and we try to make it brief.
However, this year by 6:10 P.M., the babies were having their way. They were letting their presence be known and while it gave us all reason to be thankful that 2016 and 2017 have been fruitful years for many of our young couples, we were also starting to be more thankful for nurseries during our services.
Then, the remarkable happened. When I stood up to deliver the Christmas Eve message, there was quiet. There wasn’t a single sound coming from a baby. I almost called attention to it, but I just made note of it. While there is no such reference in the Bible, I am reminded of the words in “Away in a Manger,” which say “no crying He makes.”
As I began to preach I wondered, “Is it the new grandfatherly voice I’ve developed the last two years that has soothed these babies to sleep? Have they sensed the importance of the moment and hushed so the Word could be heard? Has the Spirit fallen upon them and quieted them so all could hear the story I’m about to tell?” It was a mystery to me. But like Mary, I just pondered it in my heart.
After most of the people had left the church that evening, a few people remained in the vestibule and I was about to say something about that remarkable moment when one of them said, “I don’t know about y’all, but I know I couldn’t focus with all that crying going on, so I just took mine (her grandchild) and a couple of others volunteered and we went and opened the nursery. We rounded up the babies and kept them for the rest of the service.” (These were some of our screened nursery volunteers.)
Then I confessed. “All that time I stood up there in the pulpit, I thought the serenity had something to do with my preaching.”
There are times that we think way more of ourselves than we should. There are other times we make sacrifices for others that most will never know about. Both can happen in our family, workplace or church on the same day.
If we are to be people who worship the Christ Child and be followers of the One who was raised from the dead following his crucifixion on the cross, we must work to be like Him: humble and willing to serve others sacrificially.
These women gave up their time of worship on Christmas Eve so others could have a more serene encounter with God. Yet I know that caring for these precious children on Christmas Eve was still a precious gift to them, because these children are a precious gift to us all.
It may seem like a small thing, but often it’s the small sacrificial things we do for others that show them the love of Christ. What small sacrificial thing can you do for someone this week to show the love of Jesus to that person?