Welcome to MyNeChimKi’s Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories! Thanks to Geneabloggers for developing these fantastic prompts for some holiday spirited blogging. Over the next month we’ll be blogging about some of our fondest Christmas memories.
Today’s topic: Religious Services — The Candle-light Service at the First Baptist Church of El Dorado.
First of all, let me say that I’m just about as surprised as you might be to find out that The First Baptist Church of El Dorado Arkansas has stepped into the 21st Century and has their very own webpage! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…
I also have a confession (no pun intended) to make that this post could double for tomorrow’s post on Christmas music, just in case things get too crazy in my pre-holiday-trip madness to get around to posting.
Back “home” (I say “home” because I can’t actually call El Dorado, Arkansas my home since I never really lived there. But we call it home because that’s where my extended family all lives.) my maternal grandparents go to the First Baptist Church of El Dorado, Arkansas. This is a beautiful church with a lot of history for my family. The bells in the church tower were rung for the very first time at my parents’ wedding and the prayer room is decorated with beautiful stained glass windows that my grandmother made (some were designed by my Uncle Phillip, others by my mother). For the last few years, the First Baptist Church has been having a special service for the Christmas Holidays. It hasn’t been a terribly long tradition, and I’m not sure if they’ll have it this year or not, but it was always one of my most cherished moments.
On Christmas Eve, the family would all gather at the Church for the Christmas Candle-light service. The entire service was held by the Minister of Music, and we would lift up our voices to the glory of God. The whole worship service was conducted through song, with carol after carol of beautiful and inspirational words. If there was a grinch in the lot, his heart would have grown three sizes that night too. It was simply impossible to sing along with the whole congregation without a smile on your face.
But the very end of the service is what always touched me the most. The lights would be put out and each candle would be lit, one by one. Passing the flame between your candle and your neighbors all the while singing the calming, quiet lyrics of Silent Night. Eventually the whole sanctuary would be filled with tiny little bobbing candle light with the crowd singing softly those familiar lyrics. I would be choking back tears, just brimming over with happiness that I was able to have all my family surrounding me for this joyous occasion. I don’t think that there’s a prettier sight on this earth than that Church filled with so much love at one time.
It truly is a Christmas miracle.