I don’t need to tell anyone that this world can be a cold, dark place: recent events make that clear.
What does need to be told? A story of warmth and light… a story of love and hope.
And I can’t think of a better way to experience this story than a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. There’s something about the glow and warmth of a community of candles with voices raised in singing. It’s a chance to experience the unity and peace we all long for.
I just wish we could make it last….
The ceremony typically starts in darkness to reflect the condition of the world before Christ’s coming:
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” (Is 9:2 NLT)
The promised light is none other than Jesus Christ, represented by lighting the Christ Candle in the ceremony. Why this imagery of light?
Light dispels darkness.
- The darkness of wandering and separation from God’s love
- The darkness of ignorance and hatred
- The darkness of oppression
Light shows us the way to God… and for some of us who have wandered, the way back to God. It illuminates a better way to live that puts the love of God and the love of neighbor above all else.
Light brings warmth.
It’s not just something you see, it’s something you feel.
Watch the effect of a campfire on a group of people sometime. As the night chill sets in and the fire begins to grow, people follow a predictable pattern:
They form a circle.
Mind you, there are no written rules for how to sit around a campfire… this is something deeper within us. A need to gather together and put warmth and light in the center… and a need for everyone to have access. We’ll move and adjust to make sure everyone has access to the light and warmth.
And I can’t help but wonder: why don’t we do the same with Christ?
- Why don’t we put Him at the center?
- Why don’t we ensure everyone has access?
- Why don’t we stoke the fire in the first place?
Candlelight Service Symbolism
That’s where the symbolism of the Candlelight Service is telling.
Although the light from the Christ candle is offered freely, it still has to be accepted. As the light is passed from person to person, one could choose not to accept it.
Or we can accept the light, but hide it by keeping it to ourselves. (Not that anyone would do that with Christ).
When it comes to the Candlelight Service, the light must be accepted… and then displayed… to achieve that wonderful effect of togetherness and peace.
And while people will rarely refuse to accept and display the light during a ceremony, we do it everyday by refusing Christ, or perhaps refusing to display Christ in our lives. It is our choice.
But we must understand the ramifications of our choice:
Darkness… cold, miserable darkness.
I encourage you to find a Candlelight Ceremony near you and experience the powerful imagery of light piercing the darkness… bringing light and love into a dreary world.
But even more so, I encourage you to accept the light of Christ into your life and to display it at every opportunity.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matt 5:14–16 NLT)
Every day… not just Christmas Eve… we have the opportunity to shine the light and warmth of Christ’s love.
I just wish we could make it last….
What will you do to ensure Christ’s light lives within you daily? Where do you sense a need to bring the light and warmth of Christ in your setting?