The Best Christmas Eve Ever

A Christmas Reflection

By Deacon Steve MacDonald, Holy Spirit Parish, Dubuque

On Christmas Eve we usually gather for the late night Mass to celebrate as a family. One Christmas Eve a few years ago we met at Holy Trinity Church in Dubuque and I served as deacon. Everyone was in a jovial Christmas mood. The church was decorated in festive decor. The lights were dazzling and the candles glowed. The choir was singing, musicians were playing and everyone was joining in. Fr. Alan Dietzenbach was the presider. As Mass began one could not have wished for a more perfect setting to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Then, without warning, there was a power failure, and all the lights went out. Just the candles were burning in the background. A church in the middle of the night, without lighting, is a very challenging place in which to celebrate.

Father left his prepared homily and spoke of the situation. He stated that it was good the power had failed because it reminded us of what the first Christmas night must have been like: a confused and messy situation with no comfortable place to stay, with a baby on the way in the dark and cold of a winter’s night. And poetically, often our lives reflect such circumstances. At times we can find life confusing, messy and uncomfortable. Yet the love of God shines like a candle in the darkness. The Savior did arrive, not in a palace, but in a barn that was being used by the local farmers. Father received a spontaneous round of applause when he finished sharing his thoughts.

As the Mass continued, dozens of people turned on the flashlights on their phones to give light and some came forward to provide light for the reading of the eucharistic prayer. No one left the church. All those present did what they could so Mass could continue.

Applause erupted when the lights came back on toward the end of Mass. The celebration concluded with a rousing rendition of “Joy to the World.”

As the congregation left church many commented on how it was the best Christmas Eve ever.