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Christmas Eve at UCC

The week went by very quickly… I spent a lot of time prepping for Christmas Eve and trying to get on top of my workload in preparation for going on break.

It seems superficial but I think ambience plays such a huge part of a person’s experience. Well, I used to think it was superficial but I no longer do. I’ve realized God created in me a deep appreciation for art and beauty and is part of how I worship Him. 🙂 So I really enjoyed working on decorations and videos for the service (in addition to my regular job responsibilities, of course. :-)).

Our theme was “The Gift of Christmas.”

So it was fun to make some large over-sized gifts. Took a lot longer than I thought it would though. We taped together some moving boxes. Somehow managed to stretch out 3 rolls of 5″-wide ribbon to decorate the boxes and make bows. (These are just half of them.) (These pictures are taken by one of our amazing volunteer photographers, Jack.)

Another ambience picture… lighted garland hanging.

And a picture of the wreaths that we made last year that are used again.

Out in the lobby was garland, a tree and nativity scene. (Notice the huge difference in quality of picture as this one was taken with my iPhone.)

Anyway, we started the service with the band playing live the Transiberian Orchestra’s arrangement of Mad Russian’s Christmas. Playing totally live with no tracks or loops was a challenge but the band stepped up and it was a blast! (Probably one of the most challenging piano pieces I have played in a long time just because it was so fast!)

From there we went right into a solo of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” sung by Nancy.

Keith, our worship leader, kicked off the service with a welcome and led everyone in singing Christmas carols.

Matt and Julie were our hosts and told people of upcoming opportunities.

Glen, one of our children’s ministry directors, was dressed up as Buddy the elf, and read a Christmas story to the kids, which included an angel that sounded like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Notice his green tights. He called just about every store in Sacramento, Davis and Woodland to find those tights.

The drama team did a drama about different people’s reactions to receiving a Christmas gift. One person felt unworthy, one person was suspicious, one person was overwhelmed by the implications of how the gift might make her change how she was doing things, and a kid came along and was very excited to get the gift and ran off with it.

Jamie gave a message that talked about the Gift God gave us for Christmas through his Son, and how people respond differently, asking how will we respond? (My daughter Megan made the PowerPoint slides. :-))

Here’s a big picture view…

And another one. We had a pretty packed house!

Stacy sang a solo and then her and Keith’s son Jackson came up sang a verse of Silent Night. I was quite impressed at his poise. At his age, I would’ve been freaking out!

… while everyone lit candles.

It was a peaceful, beautiful moment, reflecting the reverence of the Christmas night when Christ was born.

Everyone held their candles up during the last verse.

Oh yeah… there were two videos in there too… and a video overlay that Keith put together to play during the special music.

I must confess that ever since I started working at churches and being in such rush mode because of Christmas Eve services, that often it doesn’t feel like Christmas. But I thought the services were really great in reminding us of the real reason for why we celebrate Christmas and I was very blessed and humbled to serve with so many who gave so willingly and with happy hearts. It really is a blessing to work on events like these, because I am reminded of how many blessings God has given us and me as a person, not to mention the amazing gift of Christ’s birth. I had great time at the services!

My family was helping out as well in children’s ministry and tech, and afterwards we all went home and had a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration as a family. It has been the first time in more than 3 years that we have actually had a “real” Christmas because the last 3 years we have been in transition moving all over the place.

Oh, a funny behind-the-scenes moment. Half an hour before sound check was going to start, we still couldn’t get the video to convert. (I made them in Final Cut exporting to .mov and .mpg4 but had problems converting so Media Shout could read them.) So both Glen and Keith were working on converting. We were in the small elevator lobby because we couldn’t get the heat to work and that was the warmest spot in the building. Both of them were parked on the stairs, battling PC vs. Mac to see who could convert faster.

Sadly, the PC won. Sigh…

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  • Reply Glen Nielsen

    That was an OUTSTANDING summary of the festivities! I don’t think there was even one component of the service itself or preparation that you did not touch! … like Rusty (one of your electric guitarists) said: “PLEASE DON’T EVER LEAVE!!!!” 8^)

    December 25, 2009 at 9:55 pm
  • Reply Keith

    great summary. those huge gifts made the platform look awesome and mad russian was smokin with you at the keys!!

    December 26, 2009 at 9:23 am
  • Reply Cathy Baldizon

    sigh – sounds wonderful! Brought back fabulous memories and of course the feeling of “wish I was there!” and by reading your summary, I almost felt like I was!

    December 26, 2009 at 6:19 pm
  • Reply Pete

    Wow, what an event! Nicely done!

    December 28, 2009 at 1:06 pm
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