Eventide is the night before something really important is going to take place. Eventide sounds like one of those theological words all dressed up and ready for use in the sacred places reserved for all of God’s people. To me it speaks not the excitement of a Christmas Eve where we are awaiting toys, great gifts, or even traveling over to grandma’s house to see all the rest of the family (and that was fun way back when).
Eventide for me speaks of another side of the evening before Christmas… it is the quiet, thoughtful, introspective time when we travel deep inside ourselves to contemplate the meaning of tonight and tomorrow on our own lives and the lives of the world. I spent forty years as the pastor of a church. For many of those years we would do one of two things; either a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service or drop in family communion. I loved them both. But the drop in Family Communion gave me more time to just ponder the eventide and prepare my soul for the happenings of the next day.
After Communion had ended I would spend some quiet time in a soft chair in the living room getting lost in the lights of the Christmas tree. After an hour or so of that special time I would move on to finishing off the night with worship at The Vatican. For some reason, even though not Catholic, I enjoyed the sacredness of that time of worship. Since retiring we spend each Christmas Eve enjoying the Candlelight Service at Myers Park UMC in Charlotte. Their music is wonderful and James Howell (Senior Pastor) always inspires and challenges me to be more like Jesus.
If there ever was a time to ponder the real meaning of Christmas for us and for the world it is this year. The world today seems not all that different from the world into which Jesus was born; Political strife and corruption, factions of all sorts seeking to come into power, people subjected to the rule of the powerful, life having little or no meaning to a large number of folks, and people yearning for hope… crying out for hope in the Messiah.
I know I need to ponder deeply… because I am letting too much of this mad, mad, mad world into my brain, my heart and my behavior. I need God born in me again this Eventide and this Christmastide… that it the only way I can change. My prayer for us is found in these very simple words:
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel
More simple words and thoughts are found in my books on line. I hope you will take the time to ponder them.