Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion has a special place in my heart. The darkness pierced by the light of Christ is powerful!
On that night, a single Christ candle in the Advent wreath remains burning, shining brightly, piercing the darkest night.
The youth gather around it, lighting their candles, then carefully walking the aisles. First one, then another, then another still, taking the light, passing the light, until the whole room is lit.
“Silent Night” is sung in hushed tones, prolonging the moment. “Go and share the light of Christ!” The magic happens....
Then all too quickly we head for the exits, dropping our extinguished lights into “Candle collection boxes” to use next year.
It’s then that the mood is ruined, squashed by the cost of candles and the necessities of getting on to “the next thing.”
Business as usual is on the agenda. Lives filled with distractions, celebrations, problem solving, gifting. Lives quietly weeping in tragedy, broken by loss, diseased and hoping for quick recovery and healing.
And Christmas Eve is once again committed to the past. The magic of sentiment is strong, the magic of transformation quickly forgotten.
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What if the age-old past truly illuminated our present-day existence in a way that changed everything?
What if we approached Christmas not as a memory to cherish, but as a moment to changes our lives daily?
We put a lot of hopes and dreams on our single candle. We often see ourselves as ones warding off a windy darkness with only a flickering flame.
We cast ourselves as heroes of our own story, making our way with courage in a world of woe.
But two thousand years of Christ says otherwise.
“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness
did not overcome it.”
The power of Christmas Eve is not me lighting a solitary candle. It is in the power of the Holy Spirit bringing us all together to live in the light of Christ, to live as "children of the light."
Together we continuously stand as a brightly lit congregation, faces radiant all around us. It's a light that is not glimpsed only on Christmas Eve at the last hymn. It's a reality that surrounds us with God's heavenly realm all day (and night) long.
We don’t pierce the darkness with our efforts. No, Christ has already done that.
And in that light we become children of the light.
“For once you were darkness,
but now in the Lord you are light.
Live as children of light
— for the fruit of the light
is found in all
that is good and right and true.”
We “normally” live in a darkness of our own making.
We dwelling in worry and anxiety,, carrying the burdens of the past, not learning from them, but festering with them, dying from them.
All too often we focus on the darkness of the world, and we see our existence as easily snuffed out, isolated, lonely or meaningless
We cloak the brilliance of Christ’s grace in creation with our many entertainments, diversions, petty grievances and any injustice we feel.
But the Feast of Christmas is the celebration of God “tenting” and “tabernacling” with us.
It is the feast of Christ “in fleshed”, “incarnate,” as THE life-giving, Godly light flooding all of creation and washing us whole with grace.
“God is light and in him
there is no darkness at all.”
-I John 1:5
And when we live in that light, ....not ignoring it or dismissing it.... when we live with it, no matter how dark our life seems, no matter how broken the world, we realize that we are surrounded by others, who are also living in that light, with all our faces radiating the light of the son of God, Jesus the Christ.
We are bathed in the love and light of God in Jesus the Christ.
We are washed with a holy forgiveness and embraced with an unconditional love. We are immersed in a brightly lit, radiant ocean of God's grace.
And we realize that OUR candle lighting is only possible because we live in the full glory of this daylight, the brilliance of a holy life, bright with the light of the Son.
So instead of focusing on the darkness pierced, we need to rejoice in a room filled with light, every one of us burning with a holy fire! (Pentecost!!)
For that is the ultimate meaning of Christmas. The end of the Jesus Story and the beginning of our story. Everyone of us transformed....and now alive with the light of Christ.
Of course, it is important remember the darkness we once lived in.... we must learn from our past.
But then we return to the fullness of God, the light of the resurrected Christ, expanding into time and space with an ever growing, unconditionally loving family.... surrounding us with brightness and radiance, healing, redemption and hope.
For it’s not about us. It’s about God, and Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit burning brightly within us.
“ ...Blessed are your eyes,
for they see,
and your ears,
for they hear.”
Each new dawn is a day for us to live with Christ, to live for Christ, to love as Christ loved, to be reborn in the new life of Christ.
Each new day can be one of deep personal transformation into the better version of us that God has in mind.
“...for you are all
children of light
and children of the day;
we are not
of the night or of darkness.”
-2 Thess 5:5
Actions and Questions:
- How does one live as a “candle in the daylight?”, ...as a “child of the light?”
- Do your actions show that you have the light of Christ in your heart?
- Have you spoken to anyone recently about joining you in Christ and in God’s heavenly presence?
- What does the image of “living on the Porch of Heaven” mean to you?