Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Best Christmas Eve Service Ever

One of my favorite days of the year as a pastor has always been Christmas Eve. I love the anticipation throughout the day and then the wonder of spending Christmas Eve at church leading in worshipping the New Born King - usually with multiple services.

But this year was different. Typically the majority of my Christmas Eve is given to the church. But this year we were able to do something we have never done before - spend all of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone as a family. As much as I very much missed the corporate worship at church on Christmas Eve, this will definitely go down as one of the most memorable Christmas Eve's I have ever experienced.

Laura's parents flew in from Colorado to spend the holiday with us and they, along with Laura, Joy, Jonathan and myself, packed up our Christmas tree and our gifts and drove about 3 hours to the other side of Pennsylvania to spend Christmas at a beautiful cottage up in the mountains that friends of ours own and graciously allowed us to use. It is just an awesome location, especially to spend Christmas.

After unpacking and decorating the tree and stringing some lights around the living room area, we spent the afternoon decorating cookies. Jonathan is the master "cookie decorator." He made snowmen cookies that looked like a mermaid, the Grinch, a forest and even a fireplace. They decorated - I ate. We then had an early dinner of Clam Chowder soup and Stromboli (with extra pineapple compliments of Joy).

Following dinner we watched the movie, "The Nativity Story." This really helped all of us to wrap our minds around the miracle of Christmas. After that, Jonathan pulled out his guitar and we lit our own candles and sang all kinds of Christmas songs. It was such a blessing and an amazing time of worship. I think all of us got emotional at some point as we sang together as a family. After spending time singing of the Savior's birth we ultimately moved into some secular songs as well, right down to "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer."

We then had some snacks and played the game "Catch Phrase" for several hours as we laughed our heads off together. Then it was time for the highlight of Christmas Eve at the Distler house as we opened up the stockings that had been sent to us by my parents. Now when we open stockings it takes quite a while as each person pulls one item out at a time and shows everyone else. the only thing that could have made it better was some snow. We actually got that the next morning as a beautiful and light snow fell as we opened our stockings and Santa gifts.

Christmas Eve was a great night. It really didn't hit me until two days later as to what made it so special. It was the first time since my kids were born that I spent Christmas Eve focused only on my family. Now don't get me wrong, I am very much looking forward to next Christmas Eve and being able to again be leading a church in celebrating the birth of Jesus. But this Christmas Eve, having time just as a family made it "The Best Christmas Eve Service Ever."

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