Are there any places that you find holy?
As I ponder that question, I find that my mind returns to places of my childhood and youth. Growing up at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, my images of holy places revolve around this sanctuary and building.
Some of my holiest moments growing up were during the Advent and Christmas seasons in that church. There was one particular Christmas Eve that was bitterly cold. The wind would blow the heat right out of your body. Our youth group had made luminaries out of paper bags, sand and candles. Lucinda Scheldorf, my youth minister, recruited me to light the luminaries on that cold Christmas Eve.
These luminaries look nice and straight -
I don't think the wind was blowing for this picture!
I did get some of them lit. Most of them stayed dark because the wind kept blowing out my light! One of them actually caught on fire making it interesting for me as well as those trying to hurry from the parking lot to the church! But even amid my failure, I still felt that this was an important job for me. It was a distinct way for me to share in the Christmas message.
The youth choir would sing at the 11:00 p.m. Christmas Eve service. The choir loft was decorated with greenery and the college students returning home for Christmas break would also sing with us. It was always fun to see them again. They seemed to add to the special quality of this late night service. One year, one of the youth dropped a hymnal off of one of the top spots in the choir loft. It made a very large thump as it hit the ground - probably when Dr. Biggs was trying to make an important point! We knew that we were leaders in worship but this only made the accident that much funnier! All through the service, one of us would make eye contact with another and start cracking up all over again!
As I got older, I remember hearing our adult choir perform Handle’s Messiah. This soon became the highlight of the Christmas season for me. My favorite year was when I got to sing with them as I returned from college. I sat next to Dad in the tenor section. My brother Bob was a row away and Mom sang with the altos.
All of these memories combine to accentuate the holiness of the sanctuary for me. When I walked through the doors earlier this fall for my Dad's funeral, God gave me a very real sense of calm and peace. My hope for you is that you have already built memories in a sanctuary that add to the serenity and reverence of the season. If you are away from home and near Edmond, we have special opportunities for you to worship with us. On Sunday, December 23, our choir along with instrumentalists and Spirit Act will be presenting The Voices of Christmas in the sanctuary at 8:30, 9:45 and 11:00 am. For those that are not as inspired by music as I am, I will be preaching in Wesley Hall at Worship on Hurd at 10:50 am. In fact, we would encourage our folks to attend both if this works for your schedule! Then on Christmas Eve, we will have four services available for you to worship at 4:00 pm (labeled family friendly because we feature a shorter service that is geared more toward children), 7:00 pm with full choir, 9:00 pm in Wesley Hall for a more contemporary feel, and 11:00 pm with our handbell choir.
Whether you have worshiped with us many times or if this will be your first, I hope that you will be able to create new memories of the holy to cherish for years to come!
Photo by Ryan via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.