The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
The house I moved into in 2011 has great closets. I do not consider myself a hoarder, but those closets have filled up over the years. They filled up so much so that when my mom stayed with me this past October, I took her up on her offer to help me purge. The biggest surprise to me was how many candles I have-taper candles, scented candles in jars, tea-lights. You name it, I might have some version of it. This could be a holdover from growing up in rural South Dakota and the electricity going out during lighting storms or living in a basement in gray Moorhead, Minnesota my last year in college (talk about a lot of darkness).
My collecting of candles may have more to do with growing up in a church tradition that uses lots of candles. I remember giving a tour of Trinity’s sanctuary to a community member and her remarking on the vast number of candles. When you add up the altar candles, eternal flame, paschal candle, and chime/prayer candles, you see that there is in fact an abundance of candles. There is something so hopeful and beautiful about candlelight, especially in the evening. As we in the northern hemisphere experience longer and longer nights, it is natural that we join candlelight with the hopes and expectations of our faith. Those hopes and expectations are wrapped up most directly in the birth of Jesus, but they also are reflected in the overwhelming beauty of the natural world, a piece of music or visual art that moves us, and in small and large acts of love we witness. I am going to try to light my candles throughout our expanded Advent and give thanks for all the ways light and hope are breaking into the world.
Let us pray...
Loving God, the coming of your light into our world brightens weary hearts with peace. Call us out of darkness and empower us to proclaim the birth of Jesus. Amen.