On Christmas Eve, we visited a residential neighborhood here in Tucson called Winter Haven. Everyone on the block decorates their homes with lights and prizes are awarded for "Best Dressed House", "Best Street", etc. The roads are closed to traffic. Families wander the streets with kids and dogs in tow. Horse-drawn wagons transport carolers. These are just a few scenes.
A mailbox masquerading as Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer...
Scenes from "The Twelve Days of Christmas"...
...and the promise of a time when the lion shall lie down with the lamb...
After visiting Winter Haven, we attended a traditional Christmas Eve candlelight service at Rincon Congregational Church. Poinsettias and wreaths graced the sanctuary. Evergreens and candles marked each pew and lined the center aisle. The congregation sang carols and took Communion. Finally, each of us lit a small candle, the flame passed from one person to the next, as we sang "Silent Night". Truly, we were reminded that amidst the hustle and bustle, Jesus is the reason for the season.
God of wonder and delight,
Warm us with your love.
Embrace us with your presence.
Remind us that no matter who we are,
Or where we are on life's journey,
You welcome us.
Fill us with comfort and joy
That we might reflect the hope of the Christ Child.
Because all the earth cries out for peace with justice,
We pray for all the people!