For many years on Christmas Eve we've spent late nights on town squares in Czech.
Various churches throughout the region host "Půlnoční" (midnight) services to share the Gospel and bring a sweet ending to the celebration of Christmas for Czechs (who, by 10 PM, have usually ended their festivities and gift giving which takes place on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day).
For the first time ever, there was a Půlnoční here in Frýdlant tonight!
Frýdlant advertised on its Facebook page, and news went out through our church and the Catholic church that there would be an evening service. To our delight around 500 people filled the square!
Fusion, our local music ministry, provided their renditions of Christmas music in both Czech and English.
The Catholic priest from our town read the Christmas story from the book of Luke.
And Dave gave the message, sharing parallels of the first Christmas to Christmas today: Christmas goes/went by very fast and was/is easy to miss, the value of the present is not always reflected by the size of the package (a baby in a manger and present day gifts), and the best gifts are the ones that are unseen like love and relationships.
In the end he challenged them to listen to the message the angels brought over 2000 years ago, one of peace and good will.
The way to embrace that message is to recognize that even though the baby was small, he was the greatest gift of all. And if you receive him, you can have that peace and experience God's good will.
I loved watching people's faces as they listened intently, praying that they would hear the still small voice of God in their hearts calling out to them with his love, peace and good will. It was a powerful and monumental evening on our square as God's message was proclaimed.
In past years when Dave would speak for Půlnoční services in other towns, we wouldn't know many people. How special it was tonight to see so many of our friends from church and town, all gathered on the square to share in such a special experience!
We're hoping this will be a tradition now, and that there will be some who will trace their salvation to a message they heard on Christmas Eve!