Church Blog

SMCC Christmas Eve Candlelight Service Explained: What We Do and Why

Each year we mark the celebration of Christmas with a Christmas Eve Candlelight service. This is a reflective service rejoicing in God’s salvation come in the birth of Christ. This year we will continue with how SMCC has traditionally observed this service: with scripture readings, singing carols, and candle lighting. We will relight the four advent candles we have lit throughout advent, culminating in the lighting of the Christ candle to mark the birth of Christ. At the end, the congregation will light each other’s small candles from the flame of the Christ candle.

For the order of the scripture readings and prayers this year, we will follow the plan of the “Nine Lessons and Carols” service. Why this model? For over a hundred years now, many churches have followed this same service order on Christmas Eve. It consists of nine short “lessons” (scripture readings) which tell the story of man’s fall through to the birth of Christ, interspersed with carols sung by the congregation or a choir. Though first begun in 1880, the form followed today was set by Eric Milner-White in 1919. He began the service on Christmas Eve 1918, just 6 weeks after the end of the First World War, with the goal of focusing on the warmth and delight of Christ’s birth to comfort a grieving people. The service is thus beautiful in its simplicity and fitting for reflecting on the wonder of the incarnation. The service leads us in just what it encourages us to do in the opening call to prayer: “Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child.”

Please join us to celebrate together on December 24th, 6 pm, at the Oyster Ridge Barn.