Christina was so excited. She could hardly wait. It was Christmas Eve and this was the first time she would be taken to Midnight Service.
You’re only six years old and you’ll get to stay up way past your bedtime, her older sister, Kimmie, grumbled. Mommy and Daddy didn’t take me to Midnight Service till I was seven. You’ll probably fall asleep in the middle of everything anyway.
I’m not sleepy, Christina said before running off. I want to help decorate the tree. And I want to go see what smells so good in the kitchen.
You smell the Christmas cake baking, Kimmie called out matter-of-factly. And you smell the turkey stuffing cooking, too. When you get to be nine, like me, you’ll know all these things.
Kimmie frowned. She had forgotten how excited she used to get at Christmastime, when everything was special and new to her. She was annoyed with Christina, who just wouldn’t keep still. And Christina asked so many questions. But most of all, she got so much attention from everyone. Kimmie had loved being the center of attention when she was the only little one in the house. Now she had to share everything with Christina.
Christina walked back and forth from the living room to the kitchen and then back again. Why is everyone taking so long to get ready for church? she said to herself. There was so much hustle and bustle as the grown-ups prepared for the big day. Finally, the family was ready to go to Midnight Service.
Wow! Christina said as they turned the last corner, walking toward the church. The church and the surrounding trees were all decorated with tiny, white lights. In the darkness outside, Christina thought she must be in Wonderland.
Inside, there were candles on the altar and even a Christmas tree next to the pulpit. Christina sat down in a pew with her family and didn’t say a word. She just stared at the beautiful sights. Her eyes beamed with excitement. She heard the organ playing Christmas carols and she sang the songs softly to herself.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
glory to the newborn king!
Suddenly, the church was enveloped in darkness. For a moment, only the flickering of hundreds of little lights could be seen. Long lines of parishioners stood in the aisle holding lighted candles. Christian heard a person with a loud voice reading from the Bible, saying,
For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
Then the procession began. One after another, the people with the candles walked slowly down the aisle.
How beautiful! Christian thought. How wonderful! She noticed that there were children in the procession. Christian wanted to carry a candle, too.
Before anyone knew what was happening, Christina darted out of her seat and into the aisle. She ran to the head of the marchers and reached for the leader’s candle. What could the leader do? He was startled but he didn’t say a word. Christina stepped out in front of him holding the candle.
The little girl’s face shone brightly in the flickering light. She was so proud and happy to join in the procession. She scarcely noticed the big, wide smiles on the faces of the other marchers and people in the congregation. Her big sister, Kimmie, couldn’t help but smile, too.
When it was well past midnight, Christina, six years old, was still wide awake.
All through the holiday, Kimmie never got tired of telling anyone who would listen, You won’t believe what my little sister did at Midnight Service!