It might seem odd, but barbecue and chocolate pie have been an important part of my Advent for most of my life. It began when I was a young boy growing up in Houston. My parents were devout Methodists. On Christmas Eve they would make the same 30 minute drive we made every Sunday morning but on that night it would be for the midnight Candlelight service. It was the pivotal moment that declared Jesus Christ has been born and has brought joy to the world!
The service would end with the singing of Silent Night. You might think that such a tender song sung at such a late hour would prepare a young boy for sleep on the car ride back home. I’m sure that it probably did during my infant and toddler years, but as I became a young boy, I actually became more and more excited on the drive home; I knew the celebration was about to begin. I would scan the night sky for any sign of reindeer or sleighs and when we got home, we always found that Santa had already come! And then my Mom brought out her barbecue and chocolate pie – we ate, laughed, opened presents, and played till we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. Then we finally went (or were carried) to bed.
We would wake up the next day well aware of the Joy that had come into the world. My parents set forth a ritual for what a sacred celebration looks like; it begins with a worship service to give honor, love, and thanksgiving to the One whose birth brought us life. They then would continue the celebration with the giving of gifts and a meal to fellowship with one another. We continue this holy pattern to this day. We worship Christ in the Christmas Eve services, and then my wife Marsha and I go home and eat barbecue and chocolate pie with any of our children and grandkids who are available. A year ago after the Christmas Eve services, we went to Paul and Christa’s home and spent the evening with them and our grandkids and were blessed when they served us barbecue and chocolate pie! Let me tell you that there is never a wrong time for barbecue or anything chocolate, but they taste better on Christmas Eve night than any other time of the year. It’s because that meal connects me with my parents and fond memories from my childhood, it connects me with all the wonderful memories that Marsha and I have of our children’s Christmas Eve meals when they were growing up, and it connects me with Christ as I truly celebrate His birth.
My prayer for you is that you will celebrate Christmas Eve in one of our Candlelight Services, then continue to celebrate the birth of our Savior with loved ones and with your own traditions. If you don’t have any Christmas traditions, this is a great year to begin – I might suggest barbecue and chocolate pie – it’s a great fit for Christmas Eve!
Dr. Robert E. Long, Senior Pastor