A Disneyland Christmas?

Last Sunday my wife and I visited Disneyland.  We had been told that Disneyland had a Candlelight celebration of Christmas that was truly Christian.  Wanting to see for ourselves we got there and stood in line a loooong time.  It wasn't a line to get in, it was a line to get close enough to the Candlelight service to see and hear.  We were in time for the 5:30 "show."  It began with the lights dimming all over Main Street, and a choir consisting of about 500 choir members from High School and church choirs.  Singing traditional Christmas carols, carrying their electric candles, they walked towards the train station steps.  It was an incredible scene.

Then they filled the stairs of the train station, with colored lights beaming on them, and began the Candlelight service. Lou Diamond Phillips read the Nativity story from Luke 2 between carols, while the conductor led the choir and orchestra in the most beautiful Christmas music and service it has ever been my privilege to attend. At several points, soloists gave performances that still move me.  At one point a young man sang Silent Night in Spanish, then, moving over to another part of the stage, invited everyone (in flawless English) within earshot to sing Silent Night with him.

Then, in the public square (Disneyland), praise to God rose from the throats of total strangers gathered together, some aware of the program, some caught totally unawares.  Yet, they sang, together.  No words were put up to read, everyone knew the words.  Everyone.  And God was blessed, and we were blessed.  It was indeed, a holy night.  A surprisingly holy night in a surprising place.

At the second program two hours later (which I stayed to watch) I noticed something I hadn't the first time.  Many people at that time were leaving the park, while many were jamming Main Street to see the Christmas Candlelight service.  Two crowds reacting to the same thing.  One crowd just intent on getting back to their cars after a day in "the happiest place on earth," totally oblivious and uninterested in the celebration of Jesus birth.  The other crowd caught up in praise and thanksgiving to God for His glorious gift to us, His entrance into our world, His taking on humanity, His humility.

The dissonance between the two crowds was pronounced.  The reactions typical of any Christmas celebration at any place.  I was reminded that no matter how many ways people try to shut down the Christmas story, it will always find an audience, and God will provide it in the most amazing ways.  I was also reminded that no matter how glorious the message and celebration, many will be totally disinterested. Their Christmas will be filled with Santa, candy canes, and iPad 2's.

 I highly recommend the Disneyland Candlelight service for you and your friends and family.  It was nothing short of inspiring.  It was, perhaps, all the more inspiring because it wasn't being held in the "safe" confines of a local church, but in the grand public square where everyone could see and hear, even if they chose not to.

Merry Christmas.
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