"A song will outlive all sermons in the memory." Henry Giles
This quote came from Terry Hershey, who used this quote from Giles as a reminder for his clergy friends who are crafting meaningful worship for this week. Hershey is an author and speaker on matters of faith.
The view from the pew is likely a different one than the view from the pulpit for the Christmas Eve homily. For my clergy friends preparing worship, this is one of the big ones of the year. What to say to those twice a year attendees that will make them want to come more often? The sanctuary is usually blessed with many, many more in the pews than on a Sunday in July. This service demands extra attention because it carries a lot of weight in the course of the year.
I would echo Terry's advice to all my clergy friends planning a moving and heartfelt worship for Christmas Eve. Leave room for the Spirit to move. As wonderful as your words are, as gifted you are with the ability to preach and share the good news, recognize that the presence the person in the pew is seeking comes during the reading of the beloved story, the time-honored carols, the memories that rise from beneath the surface. Its the moment when we all sing "Silent Night" by candlelight at the end that brings the emotions, the hopes and fears, and ghosts of Christmases past. The glow of that light in the face of our growing children, our aging parents, ourselves. On Christmas Eve, most especially, this is the night when the words that are sung are the ones we take into our hearts most readily.
May the peace of Christ be with you and may you always dare to choose love.