One of the beautiful things about Circle of Hope is our shared journey through the seasons of the year. This rhythm includes Advent, the weeks in which we prepare for the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day. Advent culminates on Christmas Eve, when we gather together late at night to mark the last of the waiting and to greet each other at the first whisper of Christmas Day.
Sometimes we refer to the Christmas Eve vigil as “the midnight service,” because it begins at 10:45 and ends just after midnight, when we light our candles one by one and sing our last carol. Our time during the vigil follows a simple rotation that includes scripture readings and silence and singing.
Like most beautiful things in life, there can be a shadow of disappointment, too, in this season. I love Advent. I love Christmas. But December this year was also filled with reminders of the weariness of our world and the endless noise of endless communication and people toiling with heavy personal burdens. It can be hard in the midst of that, thousands of years after Jesus has come, to feel once again the joy of his coming.
The room on Saturday night, though, was full of gifted musicians and joyful people. The vigil invited hope. When “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” was introduced by the team, my heart softened to the hope of Jesus’ birth in the midst of the sad realities of our modern world. The old carol comforted me. It reminded me that just as the angels once sang to the shepherds, they still whisper their songs to us. It felt for a moment like we were the angels, singing from our upper room a lullaby to the whole earth, joining the whole world in the worship of a baby.
-Aubrey White, writing