A Drama for Christmas Eve, 2011, Lighting of the Christ Candle, Jerome UMC
[The four Advent candles are lit before the service begins]
One: One of the traditional things we do very Christmas Eve is the lighting of the Christ Candle. Do you ever wonder why we do all the things we do at Christmas? We sing the same songs, eat the same foods, decorate our homes and our churches with the same lights and ornaments, read the same Scriptures. I wonder if we really stop to think about why we do those things or what they mean. Are we just going through the motions? Are all of these traditions just habits—things we do every year, well, because that’s what we do every year?
[Two hurries in late for worship, well dressed, checks his cell phone for messages and puts it away]
One: Excuse me, sir, maybe you can help me. I was just trying to figure out why we do all the things we do to celebrate the birth of a simple peasant child who was born over 2000 years ago. And why do we all these people come to church on a cold dark Saturday night?
Two: I can’t imagine being anywhere else tonight.
One: So does that mean that coming to church is just part of the holiday tradition for you – like decorations and holiday parties? You buy gifts, you send Christmas cards and you go to church?
Two: No, not at all. Without Jesus’ birth, none of those other things would happen at all. Christmas isn’t just about what happened in Bethlehem so long ago. That’s important history, but what happens in here (points to his heart) that’s what really counts.
One: What do you mean?
Two: Let me tell you my story. I used to be kind of a Bah Humbug guy when it came to Christmas. I thought I had outgrown all that baby Jesus stuff. I left home for college, partied hearty, if you know what I mean, flunked out of school and dropped out of church. My family disowned me. I couldn’t pay my rent. I was hungry and cold, walking the streets of Columbus in February.
One: Well, you look pretty well off now. What changed?
Two: Things changed on a very cold, dark night like tonight. I slipped into the Hyatt downtown, just to get in out of the cold and wind for a little while. I sneaked in when the doorman was busy with someone else. But he saw me and immediately came over to tell me only paying guests were welcome in the lobby. He began to escort me back out onto the street, and I was at the end of my rope.
One: I’m so sorry. [pause] But you’re here now. Something major must have happened to turn things around?
Two: Sure did, and not just some thing but some one. Just as I was being kicked out of the Hyatt, this well-dressed woman with a brief case was leaving. Turns out she was the hotel manager and was leaving for the night. She stopped and asked the doorman what was going on. When the doorman said he was just following company policy and removing someone out who would scare off paying customers, the manager thanked him for doing his job. But I guess she could see how desperate I was. I’m sure she had family waiting for her at home, but for some reason she took pity on me. She invited me back into the hotel restaurant and bought me a steak dinner. It was fantastic. I hadn’t eaten for days. But what blew my mind was that she sat down at the table and talked to me. She treated me like she would a paying guest or a business partner. I couldn’t believe it. And then, it got even crazier.
One: How could it get any crazier than that?
Two: When she learned I was homeless and had no job, she asked if I’d like to work for the hotel. She gave me a job on the spot, and then she told me I could stay in one of the hotel rooms until I could find a place of my own. I thought I was dreaming, but I wasn’t.
When I tried to thank her, she said something I have never forgotten. It turned my life around.
One: What did she say that could have that much impact on you?
Two: She said, “Don’t thank me. Give God the Glory and thank Jesus for leading me to you.” [pause] That’s why tonight is so special – because Christ lives in the hearts of people who share his love and peace with others.
One: [pause] Thank you so much for sharing your witness about the true meaning of Christmas. Merry Christmas. [They shake hands and Two goes to take his/her seat in the congregation.
One: [Goes to Advent Wreath] As we light the Christ Candle this Christmas eve, our prayer is that the Peace and Love of Christ will shine brightly in all of our hearts, this night and always. [lights the Christ candle]