Monday, December 22, 2014

Lighting Candles

I know of no time more than Christmas when the world takes on the soft and gentle glow of candles.   There are lots of stories and traditions associated with Christmas candles.

 We are told that Martin Luther is credited with starting the tradition of placing tapers on Christmas trees. Over time, and probably due to too many trees igniting in flames, strings of lights replaced candles.

In certain lands, it is the custom to place candles in windows to guide the Christ Child or weary travelers to shelter. The Irish would place candles in the window, and then would leave the doors open to attract the Holy family searching for lodging on the way to Bethlehem. In Ireland, only girls named Mary had the privilege to put out the candles in the church on Christmas Eve. In the Scandinavian countries, the mother always lighted the candle on Christmas Eve.

At Sardis, we light the Advent Wreath candles every service to remind us of the approaching birth of the Christ Child.

So it is that in the Christian tradition, the use of candles is a reflection of Christ, who is the Light of the World. Each Christmas I remind myself of a Howard Thurman poem on candles.

Candles of joy, despite all sadness,
Candles of hope, where despair keeps watch.
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all the year long.

Each time we light a candle, or see a candle, it should remind us of Jesus, who alone is the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness of this world will never overcome Him. Don’t forget to light some candles this Christmas. Better yet, come to our Christmas Eve services and light your own candle in the company of believers.

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