Two of my favorite Christmas experiences are hearing Handel's Messiah, especially the "Hallelujah Chorus," and attending a candlelight service.

The CSO Spiritual Ensemble sang the "Hallelujah Chorus" beautifully last weekend at Ashley River Baptist Church on Savannah Highway.

Check.

Then the hunt was on for a candlelight service - until Thursday. That's when a flier announcing "A Christmas Candlelight Service" celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ arrived.

Search complete.

A fitting tribute

I love the somberness and reverence of candlelight services. I love the glow of candles and on the faces of the people holding them. I love the sounds of the instruments playing.

Add "Silent Night" and you are likely to see a tear or two.

The service sounds promising.

Eight Charleston City Council members will read Scripture, but don't let that stop you. (Just kidding).

There will be a special tribute to Nelson Mandela by the Rev. Dr. George Flowers, Secretary-Treasurer, Global Witness and Missions, who knew Mandela personally.

It should be a fitting tribute to a man who had every reason to be bitter, but chose to promote peace instead of hate. (President Barack Obama's eulogy was awesome and worth Googling.)

A cousin of mine who is in her 70s and has traveled the world said one of her biggest dreams was to go to South Africa and shake Mandela's hand. That always spoke volumes to me.

The service will take place at 5 p.m. on Dec. 22 at Mount Zion AME Church, 5 Glebe St.

Mount Zion's choir will provide the songs, and I am told we won't be disappointed.

"We can roll from Handel to Kirk Franklin," said organist and choir master Alphonso Brown.

'The Lord is My Light'

A peek at the program and I see some favorites: "The Lord is My Light," "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," "Emmanuel," "Mary Had a Baby" and "Rise Up, Shepherd and Follow."

Missionaries will light candles for the seven continents of the world, and a councilman will light one for the city of Charleston.

Did I mention "Hallelujah Chorus" and "And the Glory of the Lord" from Handel's Messiah are on the program?

Oh, and so is my favorite, "Silent Night."

Got a hankie?

Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555, or sgreene@postandcourier.com.