Anticipation! It’s that time of the year when the two biggest “Eves” of the year are about to take place, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. In fact, one week from tonight here in South Africa we’ll celebrate our Christmas Eve service at Mountain View, our biggest outreach event of the year.
What makes the eve of Christmas so exhilarating if you take away the wrappings and trappings around Santa? That’s kind of a “duh” question isn’t it? Christmas Eve is huge because it’s the anticipation of Christmas Day! It’s the expectation of something grand… Jesus’ birthday. It’s the eve before our celebration of when the Saviour of the world became flesh, when the long-awaited and promised Messiah came to earth. And anticipation has been the theme of our Advent celebrations at Mountain View this year.
Traditionally, churches in South Africa hold services on the morning of Christmas Day. When Mountain View first began in 2002, we were desperately trying to find our place in a community that was already saturated with every domination and cult that you can imagine – all of them offering Christmas Day services. So that first year we tried a Christmas Eve service, not as a gimmick, but as a way to invite people to come and hear about the Light who came to save us. And it worked!
It’s now become one of the most popular and well-attended services of the year and, in a strange way, it happens without most of our “regulars” in attendance. For those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas comes in our summer season. If you are in the United States, imagine Christmas being celebrated about the same time as the 4th of July. With year-around schooling, we just started the summer break. We’re having amazing warm weather, family vacations are in full swing (which is why most of our regulars are away and we have so many guests!), the beaches are packed, and businesses are either swamped or closed for the break.
Anticipation! Imagine the anticipation in heaven that first Christmas Eve? I don’t think the church can over-hype it or celebrate too big. It’s our time of the year! So it’s with great anticipation that our church will be gathering next Wednesday amidst the flickering lights, candles aflame, carols and songs of praise, and the pure joy of being able to honor God and celebrate Jesus through a time in His Word.
Would you commit to do two things this year? One, will you pray with us this Christmas Eve for the service at Mountain View? We’ll gather at 7:00 pm (that’s 12 pm/noon EST). Pray for the many visitors who, Lord willing, will attend. It’s sure to be a full house with many who cross the threshold of a church only once or a few times a year. Pray that God will be so honored and glorified and the gospel will be clearly presented.
And two, why not attend a Christmas Eve (or Christmas Day) service where you live? Join us in the anticipation of Christmas and rejoice, knowing that from all corners of the world and from every nation, people will celebrate the long-awaited Saviour of the World. Some even celebrating in secret!
Anticipation! And then, anticipate what is to come. For one day we will all be celebrating together! He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Rev. 22:20