“Joyful and Triumphant, O come ye O come ye to Bethlehem,”big words for such a little girl to sing! One of the few times in my childhood that I got to go to church, and this was a special moment as I was entrusted with the privilege of holding the sacred candle while we sang the Christmas carols about Jesus’ birth. Grandma and grandpa kept a close eye on me, and I couldn’t help but give a quick glance over to see if my little brother had been graced with the same privilege. My face shot straight forward as he reached for my candle, as my answer became clear. As I look back now, I can’t remember being in church too much as a child, especially on Christmas. However,I remember these few that were spent with grandma and grandpa Lloyd.
Christmas eve service was boring to me as a child, UNTIL the candle part! The year I got to hold the candle was especially important. I was standing beside my grandma, who was watching me closely. I had no idea at the time that this would be my last year with both my grandparents, my last year to celebrate Christmas as a child with “peace on earth”, at least the only peace I knew. I didn’t know then that the bubble of my childlike wonder, innocence, and goodness was about to burst leaving me unable to return to Neverland again.
I think about that moment with a candle a lot, every Christmas when I hear “O Come All Ye Faithful.” I close my eyes and try and recapture that moment beside my grandma’s skirt, holding the candle, feeling the thrill, so loved and so safe in that love. My father, whom I hardly know now, just a few seats down. Hearts not yet broken by disappointment, disillusionment and rejection, a heart so trusting still, still believing in magic and goodness. A heart that only a child can have.
My grown-up heart is filled with a new wonder. It is wonder of what that candle represented that I held as I young child. Little then did I know, that the small flickering Light I held in my hands would be the Only One standing when all else was gone. That Light would be strong enough to hold me. And that Light would deliver me back a new heart, a child’s heart. “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15. Only in Jesus can a grown-up get a second chance to live in childlike wonder.
I had a dream a few months ago where my grandparents and some of my other relatives were waiting for me inside a beautiful, small,candlelit chapel. It was the sweetest dream ever. They were inviting me in to an encounter to worship our True Light, and I received the invitation.
“O Come all Ye Faithful
Joyful and Triumphant
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem
O come let us adore Him
Christ the LORD”
I pray we all receive the invitation to return, as little children, to the Light that never lets us go, Jesus, the Light of the World.