Even if your shopping is complete and the gifts are wrapped, the pastor knows that there is one more thing to do before Christmas morning. Hold Christmas Eve Services. Whether you are preaching, celebrating the Eucharist, leading the prayers, singing the carols, handing out bulletins, or greeting people at the door, it is a big moment in the annual life cycle of a congregation. Has it become too big?
It is a privilege to be sure. Leading worship or preaching the message on Christmas Eve is an honor. I always pray that our services and my sermon will honor my King’s birth. Plus, the glory and the beauty of a candlelight service create strong memories for people. Attendance is typically higher. The beauty of the liturgy is always more special at night. And then there are the Carols of Christmas; the old songs are powerful in their tune and theology. And some of the new ones are deep and wonderful too.
In short, it is a great event that should bring glory to God and communicate the Gospel. But, after 32 years of ordained leadership I have to admit: Christmas Eve is the most wonderful and most difficult service of them all. There are so many issues, challenges, opportunities, options, cultures, feelings, theologies, traditions, and practices in play.
They dance like sugar plums in my head, as it were. Not surprisingly, here are twelve: