Last night small town, small church shone brightly in Mertens, Tx. We had our annual Lessons and Carols, which is your basic Christmas Eve Candle Light Service. Before we started our Lessons and Carols, our children (which we have surprisingly a lot, something must be in the water) performed the "Nativity." The lights were turned down low, with only the stage lights on. There was a small inn to the side of the stage and a barn complete with a manger and Christmas Tree and four bails of hay. Our girl that played Mary appeared on stage and then the music came on: Faith Hill's "A Baby Changes Everything." That's right, Faith Hill. And our kids acted out the nativity as told through the wonderful voice of Faith Hill. It was great. We even had a real live baby Jesus (even though Jesus was a girl last night)! All the kids in their costumes came out: angels, shepherds, wise men, a star, donkeys, camels, and even a pig (poor girl might have a complex later and a pig in a Jewish barn?). It was great. The girl who was the star took the verse literally that the star shone right where Jesus was because Jesus on this night was her sister, and she did not trust our Mary to hold baby Jesus! In fact, she tried to take Jesus at one point, and her mom had to rush to the scene to stop her. After a brief meet and greet time, and rearranging of the furnature, we began our Lessons and Carols. It was beautiful and chaotic at the same time. There were kids all over the place, and parents trying to control them as we read scripture, listened to our chior, and sang Christmas songs in worship of the Christ child. One kid would start crying and then the others would point and say what's that, and then another would run to try and help the baby stop crying. It was crazy and fun and the way that church should be, a family atmosphere. I have a feeling that Jesus smiled at our church last night. When we passed the light from the Christ candle and each person and child helped light up the room with their own candle, it was beautiful. Afterwards we had a Christmas party complete with Santa Claus coming to visit all of our kids. Never has a chaotic celebration seemed so beautiful to me. I leave you with my Advent Reflection as I lit the Christ Candle last night: We have hoped with the prophets, placed our faith in the promises of God, discovered the joy of new life, and experienced peace beyond human understanding. Now the wait is over. Christ is here and he lights up our dark world.