The Christmas candlelight service at First Christian Reformed Church of Vancouver, British Columbia, began like any other. People were invited in with soft light and quiet music. Anticipating the candle lighting part of the service, each worshiper received an unlit candle.
However, the service ended on the church’s city street as singing filled the night sky.
The service was collaboratively planned with an exodus theme steeped in Advent and waiting, said choir director Laura Smit.
The choir led worship, along with a lively bluegrass band that brought to life songs of waiting and longing. As the service came to its end, choir members took their lit candles and passed the flame, lighting people’s candles.
The choir followed the musicians, who led worshipers down the wide front stairway and onto the street, troubadour style, singing the parting song “Soon and Very Soon.”
Neighbors across the street came out on their balconies to join in singing of the familiar tune. Kurt Monroe, worship planner and musician, recalled, “There was a beautiful fog instead of the rain that had been forecast. The fog created a beautiful luminescent scene once we got outside.”
Gathered into a large circle out on the street, worshipers held their candles high as the singing ended with “This Little Light of Mine.”
“The neighbors did indeed come out of their houses, and some started dancing along with the music and cheered at the end,” said Monroe. “It was a wonderful unexpected moment.”
First CRC plans a similar event for this December.