Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Reflections on the Mt. Pleasant Christmas Candlelight Celebration

We all have favorite Christmas memories that are brought to life with certain aspects of Christmas celebrations.  For some of us, the taste of hot chocolate on a winter’s night takes us back to our youth; a time with a grandmother or grandfather beside a crackling fireplace.  For others, it is the sight of snow that makes us think of the awe of childhood Christmas mornings where snow was dusting the pines outside as the smell of bacon and biscuits filled the air and glittering packages were shining around the tree.  No matter how old we get, those memories still stir our hearts with joy and excitement.  At times, we reminisce about those days and almost wish we could go back in time when life seemed to move slower and stress wasn’t even a part of our vocabulary. 

This past weekend many of us witnessed Mt. Pleasant’s first Christmas Candlelight Celebration, and for me, I had an opportunity to experience so many things that would stir my heart like that of a child.  As each service began, there were fresh homemade cookies for all to enjoy, and the cookies were paired with your choice of hot chocolate or hot apple wassail as Christmas lights lit the sanctuary.  As for me, this inspired excitement and made me feel like a child eagerly anticipating Christmas morning.  Then, as the lights went down and the music started, the excitement began to find fulfillment in the events of the service.  The sounds of Christmas carols filled the air and those songs would bring to mind Christmas times of old.  Just when I thought it could not get any better, the Celebration would slowly begin to transition from just a mere celebration to true worship.

As I stood in the Choir hoping to worship God with a song, I was blessed to see people of every age, both male and female, experiencing the sights and sounds of the service, but better than that, I began to see those same people
experience the joy of God’s presence.  Their faces would light up as they saw snow falling and children playing.  As
many would sing along, you would see hands lifted in praise to our King.  It is hard to explain, but the joy and peace that were on the faces of those worshiping God were so genuine and God-honoring.  Then, as each service progressed and the drama team presented their telling of the Christmas story, you could see hearts drawn to the story.  Those hearts hanging on every word as the greatest story ever told was being displayed.  The birth of Jesus was brought to the forefront of each person’s mind as they watched and listened carefully.  

As those same hearts thought of a baby laying in the manager over two thousand years ago, Pastor Kevin would go on to tell the reason for the birth of Jesus.  He would powerfully share the gospel and remind each person that Jesus is not another god on the buffet line of gods.  Jesus is the one true God---The Way, The Truth and The Life.  Through the excitement of the service and the happiness experienced by each aspect of the celebration was fresh on each person’s mind, each person was reminded to make room for Jesus in their life, for without the Light of Jesus Christ in our lives, joy is only temporary.  Each person was given the opportunity to receive the greatest gift ever given, salvation in Jesus Christ.  With my head bowed, I could hear Pastor Kevin speaking of the risen hands which were indicating the desires of hearts turning back to Christ or hearts being given over to Jesus.  For those people, a night of celebration was life-changing, both here on Earth and in eternity.

God’s work would not stop there though as candles were lit throughout the sanctuary.  As the Choir, Praise Team and each person filling the seats of the sanctuary begin to sing
Silent Night in their own unique voices or with Sign Language, I could not help but think of the Sabbath rest found in Jesus.  The peace of the moment was surreal as so many lifted their voices in worship and praise.  Our hearts were taken back to a time when the birth of a child changed everything and the silence of God was broken by the cries of His Son.  The glow of candlelight overtook the darkness, and we could each see how much true light affects the darkness.  I was left wanting more, only to be reminded that God is always with us and we can experience His presence anytime we will get still enough.  

The first Christmas Candlelight Celebration was a success because an event went from entertainment to worship.  Jesus Christ was exalted and the real reason for the season shown through.  It reminded us that Christmas means Christ-worship.  Has it inspired you to show the Light of Life to those around you?  Have you made room for Christ this Christmas?  Will you slow down long enough to experience the joy of His presence or will the moments of peace and silence this past weekend seem out of reach?  My hope is you will take the opportunity to make Christ everything this Christmas.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Event

Well, it’s hard to believe but this is the week that it happens.  Many of you know what I’m talking about, it’s the MPBC Christmas Candlelight Celebration coming up this Saturday, Dec 16th and Sunday, Dec 17th.  Our church has not “put on” a Christmas show in many years so we are excited about this weekend and we have taken on the task of putting together a great opportunity for our church family and our community to experience the gospel in a unique way.  We have been preparing for this service for months now and after all of the practices I think that everything is ready to roll and we are excited to see how God moves this weekend.  Through the work of well over 100 members of our church there is good music, good drama, special effects, you name it, but it is all being done to glorify God.  

I know that the Christmas season is very, very busy but I really hope that you come share in this service with us and that you will bring someone who needs to meet Jesus.  What greater gift could you give to someone than to give them the opportunity to hear about Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas?  Please pray for the services this weekend that lives would be changed and that God would be glorified in everything that takes place.  

I get excited when all of the work that is put into a project is finally completed and you “go live”.  No matter what goes wrong (and something undoubtedly will) you get to see the hand of God use our small efforts and see something GREAT happen.  For those of us who are in the program we will be exhausted but there is nothing better than being spent/used up for Christ.   John Wesley once said “You have nothing to do but to save souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work”.  I think he got this from Paul’s letter of concern to the church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 12:15: “And for the sake of your souls, I will most gladly spend my money and myself.  If I love you more, will you love me less?"  I’m glad that I can be used for Christ! 

This past Sunday night we had our final dress rehearsal and I think everything went very well and we are ready for next weekend.  Please pray for us that we will have the energy and strength needed to get through four performances in 2 days and that God is glorified in everything that is done at MPBC.

Here are a few photos for dress rehearsal to get you ready.
Merry Christmas!  

In Christ,