This holiday season my family and I had the privilege of attending one of the 29,014 congregations of our church for a sweet Christmas service in a little snowy mountain town. As is tradition in many of our church services across the world at Christmastime, this one was just music with a little scripture narration in between each song.
The musical talent, ages, and experience levels of the performers (drawn from the congregation) varied, but the pervading, beautiful, constant was the fruit of the spirit of the Lord that Paul talked about in Galatians that saturated all in attendance with “love, joy, and peace” as we listened to “Silent Night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth; Jesus Lord at thy birth.” And “Led by the light of faith serenely beaming with glowing hearts by His cradle we stand…….Truly He taught us to love one another His law is love and His gospel is peace…..Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices, Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born, Oh night divine, Oh night divine.”
There have been many a Sunday morning where, prior to church, I have stopped to ask The Lord to help me open my heart to His message and prepare to really hear, but I’ll admit, this wasn’t one of those Sundays. I was feeling a little vacation-mode-ish. I was happy to be a good example to our children and check off the “go-to-church” box, but honestly, I was thinking more about yummy food I wasn’t going to cook (or clean up after), skiing, sledding, long overdue family time, fire places and hot chocolate…..not the kind from a packet, the kind you make from scratch with milk and cocoa powder with the perfect balance of chocolate and sugar. But as soon as that twelve-year-old boy stepped up to the microphone to start the scripture narration reading of the birth of our Savior, I forgot all about my activities list and was flooded with the kind of love that can only come from heaven. I was in a room full of strangers, but the spirit I felt was as familiar as home, heart glowing, standing by His cradle. That kind of warmth is better than any fire or perfectly ratioed hot chocolate…..it’s the ultimate gift available to all.