I hear the wistfulness in your voice when you say it: “I’m going to miss Christmas Eve.” I, too, love our Christmas Eve service. The sanctuary full. The candles high. The faces alight. The flame passed around to all of us so we’re almost blazing as we go.

Sometimes the “Christmas and Easter” Christians get a bap rap, for choosing such high and holy moments to attend church. But not from me. There’s something about the wonder of Christmas Eve that draws us to believe. And don’t we all want to believe? How true this is THIS Christmas, as we take stock of what’s lost, what’s different, what’s missing, and what we don’t have. We need to believe, again — not simply that God came long ago, but that God comes to us still, in ways not only dramatic and definitive, but also ways silent and soft as a baby in a manger on the backside of an unknown town. God comes, in other words, to all of us amidst the gravest challenges of our lives.

I grieve with you all that’s different this season. I will miss gathering in-person in the Sanctuary to mark this season this year. But I will not miss Christmas Eve. Not entirely. And neither will you. This year, naturally, we have adapted the beloved traditions of this service to safe settings. Some of us have signed up for shortened outdoor services at 4:30 and 5:30. But ALL of us can gather together for our Christmas Blessing — a virtual Christmas Eve service including carols, a new anthem from our Sanctuary Choir, a time for children, a Christmas homily for this challenging year, and a candlelit “Silent Night.” While you can watch this service any time after 1:00, we would especially encourage you to watch the live stream of the service at our traditional time of 5:00 on Facebook or at fbcgso.org. You can even participate in the closing candle lighting by sending a candle lighting video to Christina (christina@fbcgso.org) and/or picking up vigil candles for yourself and/or your household outside the Atrium at any time between now and Christmas Eve. More on this service and all of our plans can be accessed at fbcgso.org/christmas-week.

It won’t be a full sanctuary amidst the looming winter darkness, but this very likely will be the most inclusive and far-reaching Christmas Eve in the history of our church. Once again, we will gather to hope and sing and raise light amidst the shadows of this life.

As my son, Warner, said this week, “Jesus has been born about a thousand times now.” Give or take. We’ve needed him every time, and never any more than now. So amidst all that is hard, and all that is different, I hope you find that it’s happening once again, in our time, in our place, in our lives. And you won’t miss it.

Together In Love,