When I was growing up, one of our family traditions was to celebrate Christmas Eve with my father’s side of the family. Our family, my grandparents, and my uncles and their families would all gather at my grandparents’ house for a nice dinner. After dinner, we would exchange Christmas gifts and then all rush home to get in bed before Santa stopped by for the evening. 

Our family tradition actually began before dinner, though. We began each Christmas Eve, not at my grandparents’ house, but rather at their church – the First United Methodist Church of Clinton, Mississippi. We gathered there to participate in and celebrate the Lord’s Supper together as a family.

When I was a child, I have to admit that I found the first part of our evening to be confusing. At that time, I did not really understand the significance of celebrating the Lord’s Supper. In the tradition of my grandparents’ church, we went to the front of the sanctuary together to observe the Lord’s Supper. When we reached the front of the sanctuary, we knelt down and waited until a pastor brought us the bread and then the cup. As a child, this was all very confusing to me, so I just did my best to follow along and finish up as quickly as possible.

As I grew older, my view of this tradition changed from confusing to annoying. I know, that’s a little blunt, but it’s honest. I found the tradition annoying because it involved a good bit of waiting. We waited for everyone to gather outside the church before going in. We waited on a pew until it was our time to walk forward. We waited until everyone finished observing the Lord’s Supper before leaving. And then, we waited at my grandparents’ house for everyone to arrive, to eat, and then, finally, we could exchange gifts. For a young boy anticipating the gift exchange, that was a lot of waiting.

As a teenager, my perspective of this tradition changed again. As I entered my teen years, Jesus awakened me to Himself. He began to reveal Himself to me. And I understood, probably for the first time, the true significance of what we celebrated together as a family each Christmas Eve. By the time I graduated high school, the gift exchange had lost its luster and my favorite part of the evening was the time we spent together celebrating the Lord’s Supper. The waiting no longer bothered me. In truth, I did not view it as waiting at all. I began to view those times as times of preparation. As we waited for our family to gather, I prayed that they would all come. As we waited to walk forward, I took time to pray and prepare my heart for what I was about to do. And when we walked forward, I took my time, prayerfully taking the bread and the cup. And, in doing so, I discovered participating in the Lord’s Supper on Christmas Eve to be a great time of communion between the Lord Jesus and myself and a great reminder of the real reason we celebrate.

My hope for you this Christmas is that you will find time to slow down, to wait, and prepare your heart to celebrate our Savior.
~ Nate French