What happens when Christmas Eve is on a Sunday?
This year, as happens every decade or so, Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, which means it is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Why, you ask? Because according to the Church calendar the Feast of Christmas is celebrated on December 25. It has been customary, of course, in many Episcopal and Anglican churches around the world to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve — often with a Midnight Mass that rings in the Feast of Christmas with candles, bells, carols and a lot of Christmas joy.
The question that might be on your mind is “Do I HAVE to come to church on Sunday morning AND Sunday evening?”
Now, you should know by now that in the Episcopal Church there is very little you HAVE to do, and even less that I or any other authority can MAKE you do! As people of faith, we worship God both communally and individually, and you have to make the best decision for you.
But let me say that it might be a good idea to approach Christmas with a different lens this year than most. Plan to be here at 8 or 10:30 a.m. on Sunday for the Advent IV liturgy. Spend some time pondering, for a few more hours, the waiting and wanting and hoping for the return of the Savior. Put behind you the lights and the present buying and the office parties and everything else. It will be a slow day, and the day after it even slower, so languish a bit in the slowness of life with us on Sunday morning.
Join in the festivities after services as we green the church. Find yourself a cup of chili or hot cocoa and help string greens and decorate Christmas trees and prepare this place for the coming of the baby Jesus.
And then come back in the evening — maybe for the 5 pm pageant service, with a rather industrious bunch of children singers. Or for the 10:30 Midnight Mass to bask in the organ, the incense, the music, the candles and perhaps some memories of Christmases past and some hope for Christmases present and future as you invite the child Christ back into your heart and into your life. Or do something totally different this year. Come back and join us as we gather around the font for an informal service on Christmas Day with your favorite Christmas carols (picked by you) and maybe some more hot cocoa, coffee and leftover Christmas cookies.
However you choose to celebrate Christmas this year, I am grateful to have you as part of the Memorial family, and I hope that this Christmas season offers you an opportunity to invite Jesus back into your life, and rekindle a passion for living out the Gospels all the time: tending the sick, giving rest to the weary, soothing the suffering and shielding the joyous, all for Jesus’ sake.