For some inexplicable reason that can only be described as a Christmas miracle, Disneyland has continued to uphold its overtly religious Candlelight ceremony every year since the park opened in 1955. A ceremony filled by light and wonder, where visitors to the "happiest place on earth" are invited to remember the holiest event in history, complete with traditional Christmas hymns like "Silent Night" and a reading of Luke's Gospel from a celebrity guest.
This year's reading was offered by none other than Chris Pratt from Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy." Past narrators include Darth Vader's alter-ego James Earl Jones, Dick Van Dyke and Ginnifer Goodwin, whose vocal talents could be heard in "Zootopia."
According to Theme Park Insider, the annual Candlelight processional offered at Disneyland is markedly different than the one offered at Disney World's Epcot. For 63 years, the Disneyland event has remained "an exclusive affair, playing just four shows across two nights on the first weekend in December." No seats are offered to the public and it's invitation-only. Spectators, however, can watch the show in designated standing room-viewing areas in the perimeter of Main Street's Town Square.
"The show begins with a live orchestra performing an overture of holidays songs, as the choir proceeds down Main Streets," reports TPI. "As they enter Town Square, we hear the 600 voices for the first time, as the orchestra accompanies their procession on to the stage, illuminated by their candles and the Star of Bethlehem on the Main Street train station."
"More than a dozen local school, church, and community choirs joined singers from the Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios cast," the report continues. "The program includes all the greatest hits of the holiday choral repertoire, including 'Away in a Manger,' 'Angels We Have Heard on High,' 'What Child Is This?' and 'Silent Night,' interspersed with the telling of the Christmas story from the Bible."
For two years in a row, the celebrity guest narrator for the Gospel portion has been a star from the Marvel franchise. Last year was Chris Hemsworth; this year was Chris Pratt. Typically, the celebrity guest remains a mystery until the show itself, and though their presence provides an air of prestige, the show is made by the hundreds of musicians and singers who bring their best to the performance. In the finale, all 700 of them joined for a rendition of the Hallelujah chorus from G.F. Handel's "Messiah."
Aside from the reading of Luke's Gospel, Chris Pratt went off-book after the curtain call to deliver a heartfelt message about God, drawing from his own experience as a father.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it was really my honor to share this beautiful Candlelight ceremony with all of you," Pratt began. "It's been a very special and inspiring night. For me, being a parent has really changed my life in so many ways. And one of those ways is to understand, truly, the love that a father could have for a child."
Chris Pratt then pointed out his own child in the audience and talked about the "pure" love he unceasingly feels.
"When I stare at this precious little creation of mine here, and I watch the ways in which he tries to please me, I just fill with a love that I feel is so pure, and unending," Pratt continued. "The way we love our children, the more we love our children, the more we will understand the capacity for our Father in heaven to love us. Each and every one of us a precious creation, and he just marvels in the ways that we can try to please Him. That should give us a great deal of comfort. I know it does for me."
In conclusion, the Marvel star called on everyone to embrace tomorrow with hope and love.
"This holiday season, let us embrace every one of our tomorrows with hope and love," Pratt said. "And through this holiday spirit may we continue to spread peace and goodwill throughout the world. Thank you, and Merry Christmas!"
Pratt's message can be viewed in the video below at the 50:41 mark:
Pratt has used multiple public forums to share his faith in God and Jesus Christ. Earlier this year, he made headlines when he he proclaimed before a large audience at the MTV Movie Awards that "God is real."
"Learn to pray. It’s easy, and it’s so good for your soul," he told the audience. "Nobody is perfect. People are gonna tell you you’re perfect just the way you are — you’re not. You are imperfect. You always will be. But, there is a powerful force that designed you that way. And if you’re willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. And like the freedom that we enjoy in this country that grace was paid for with somebody else’s blood, do not forget it. Don’t take it for granted."