From Mark Hricko, Senior Pastor …
“Ready for the big night?” That question gets asked of me and many of my fellow pastors every year as Christmas Eve approaches. It suggests a certain understanding that the crowds are seldom bigger than they are on December 24th, and that the church’s preparations include a hundred details to coordinate with staff members, musicians, ushers, other worship leaders and assistants, along with my own need to remember the differences between each of our four services.
But I can also say that, if history repeats itself, I also need to get ready for moments on Christmas Eve when I look around and find myself thinking not about the details, but about the worshipers themselves, knowing the hard times through which many of them have gone, the joys and milestones they’ve celebrated, the hope they bring, and the questions they have about their future. I’ll see my spiritual family coming to celebrate Christmas and I’ll think about all they’ve given and all they’ve done all year long to bring the reality of Jesus into the world. I’ll notice new faces and those I haven’t seen in a while and hope their hearts will be drawn to a relationship with God that goes far beyond “the big night.” And I’ll likely think of those who are celebrating in God’s nearer presence and whose memories I cherish.
To be honest, those thoughts usually flow through me faster than it’s taking you to read these words. But it does happen every year, sometimes during a procession or the candle lighting or the singing of Silent Night. When it does, I find myself feeling very thankful for the family God has made of us in the Child whose birth we celebrate, and how much I want that family to grow. Then I think about Him and how none of it would be happening without Him. And that’s when I find a quiet moment by myself after the final service is over to say “thank you for coming and making all the difference in the world.”
Ready for the big night? I’m getting there! And I hope you are too!