November 29, 2021

I’ll never forget the 2020 Christmas experience. We weren’t able to meet in person for the Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Service last year due to the pandemic. Instead, we met online to worship together. We had prerecorded the worship service so that it would be ready for television broadcast on December 24. It gave me an opportunity that I hadn’t had before: to worship alongside some of my family on Christmas Eve. Of course it wasn’t the way I wanted to celebrate Christmas Eve;
I was thoroughly disappointed to not be in the Sanctuary with the family of faith and a room full of candles shining as we sang Silent Night. But in place of the way I’ve celebrated Christmas Eve for almost every year of my life, I had something so special and intimate that it became one of the top worship experiences of my life.

After we finished the pre-recording of the Christmas Eve service, Marsha and I went to Colorado to be able to spend Christmas Eve with our daughter Kelly,
her husband Andy, and our grandchildren: Luke, Mara, Park, and Milly. When it came time for worship to begin, we each picked up our candle holders and then found a place to sit. As I began to sit down, Kelly quickly said,” I want to sit by Daddy!” and we all settled in for worship.

I can’t begin to describe what that did for my soul. My daughter’s faith and commitment to worship were well known to me, but hearing her genuine desire to experience worship close to me, touched my heart. Of course, I was just as excited to sit beside her. Her joy and mine reminded me of what worship is all about.

There is an excitement we can tap into when it comes to worship. We get to be with our Heavenly Father in a special way. But, as much as we want to be with God, God loves to be with us all the more; so much so that God was born as an infant in Bethlehem. Jesus was born to be with us. It is the very meaning of the name “Emmanuel.” It means “God with us.” We celebrate Christmas because the love that God has for us is so strong that Emmanuel was born. This Advent, let your hearts get excited to worship with Emmanuel. And allow yourself to realize the incredible gift of assurance that Christ came to be with you.

Let us all pray, O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

– Dr. Bob Long, Senior Pastor