My Christmas Eve tradition over many years was thwarted somewhat by a mean old virus. I would rush from work, most times still in work clothes, and head down Interstate 4 to get to the Candlelight Service at First Baptist Church of Orlando. I enjoyed it because it was always a spirit-filled family event and often, money collected during the service went to charities in the local community.
But God! This year, I didn’t have to rush anywhere because the Candlelight Service I attended was virtual, on Zoom and my brother, Rev. Reginald B. Johnson Sr., led the service along with members of the church where serves as senior pastor.
What a time! We lit candles and sang along to traditional hymns such as “Away in A Manager,” “The First Noel” and “Joy to the World.”
The message was the same: Jesus Christ is the Light of the World! We celebrate Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ. He is the manifested Love of God – born to save us! Amen. (Luke 2: 11-12)
Plus, my 85-year-old mom, one of my sisters along with an uncle and aunt were on the Zoom. That was icing on the cake, sort of speak (must have another round of Christmas dinner on my mind, LOL)! My brother told me later that the service had more people to attend than those who attended in the past at the church. That’s good news too!
It all reminded me not to despise the twists and turns in life because we can find peace and even more blessings in a new direction.
Here are some highlights from the service. Hope this blesses you as it did me.
Church members lit Advent Candles and read scriptures coinciding with what Jesus bought into the world when he was born.
HOPE: Jesus’ birth brought hope into a world that felt hopeless. The people were under Roman rule and high taxes. God had promised them a Savior, a king who would overthrow the Romans and rule like King David. Had God forgotten His promise in Isaiah 7:14? They had hoped He would be the one. They had hoped He would have come by now. They had hoped…think of some times when you have felt hopeless and know that we can have hope in Jesus. God has fulfilled His Promise. Scripture Reading: Isaiah 7:14
PEACE: When you are under the rule of someone else as the Jewish people were under Roman rule, you may not feel very peaceful. When Jesus was born he brought peace into the world. Peace is the calm even in the midst of strife or occupation. When Jesus is a part of our life we can have peace when our life may be filled with problems. Think of some times when you may not have had peace in your life. The Christ of Christmas wants you to have the peace that passes all understanding. Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:6
JOY: When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He brought joy into our lives and our world. Joy is the presence of God in our lives, even in the midst of conflict. May you experience the joy that the Christ Child brings this Christmas. Scripture Reading: Luke 2:10 and Matthew 2:11
LOVE: Someone has said that “Christmas is Love.” At Christmas, God demonstrated His love for us as He sent His son to be the Savior of the world. Through Jesus’ birth God said, “I Love You.” May you experience the love of God as you celebrate the birth of Jesus. Think of some times when you really felt loved. Remember that God was faithful in His demonstration of His love for us in the birth of Jesus. Scripture Reading: Luke 2: 1-20 and John 3:16
CHRIST: (Himself) We are now in Bethlehem. Can you hear the angels singing, hear the flutter of angel wings, hear the cows moo or the Baby Jesus cry? God had not forgotten His promise. Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus – God’s gift to the world. In Jesus, God gives us hope, peace, joy, love and the presence of His son Jesus. This Christmas may you celebrate and truly experience the birth of Jesus in your life and in our world.
The service ended with testimonies of God’s goodness in the lives of his people and a prayer for individuals and for our country.
Candles were lit from the Christ candle (held steady by the leader in each household) as we sang together, Silent Night.
Kudos on a job well done Pastor Johnson and members of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, DeLand, Florida.
Merry Christmas everyone! With Love, Peace, Joy and Hope!
-Trish Martin, Founder and Editor, Orlando Community News