Scenes of Christmas: Duke Chapel by Candlelight … almost

Duke Chapel (Durham, NC), Christmas 2012

Duke Chapel (Durham, NC), Christmas 2012

Yesterday was Duke Chapel’s Holiday Open House.  That’s the annual event where, from 12pm to 2pm, the Chapel is illuminated by candlelight, and pew dwellers and isle roamers are serenaded by Chapel organs and carillon.  I’ve been awaiting it for weeks, nay, all year.

I woke up yesterday recalling it.  I packed a lunch that would be easy to gulp down as I made my way there.  And I even organized my workday to-do list to accommodate those contemplative moments of blessed sanctuary.  But something happened to my brain somewhere after 9am.  I came to my senses at 2:45pm.  Dismay doesn’t adequately describe my emotion.  

I trotted over to the Chapel to find the candles snuffed out and the organs deadly silent. The only sound was the click of my boots on the concrete floor, which caused a few pew dwellers to look up at me in mild disgust.  I shot back my best, “Hey, I can make noise if I want to!” look and was immediately repentant.  My moment of hatefulness toward my fellow man was a reminder that I didn’t need candlelight, I need the Light of the World, namely Jesus Christ.  He, not the candles, not the organs, not the traditions, is what Christmas is about!  He is what I need!


I settled into a creaky wooden pew and thanked God for the Savior of the world, who was born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross in my place–For me! An undeserving, wretched sinner who continually loses sight of what is important and who fails to keep God’s commandments perfectly.  Does this confession surprise you?  It shouldn’t. I’m a flesh-and-blood human being who daily needs God’s mercy and grace–who daily needs to contemplate the manger and throw myself at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. … If you are flesh-and-blood, I reckon you need that, too.

Luke 2:10-11 — And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.