Saturday, December 10, 2005

Light a Candle

One of my favorite Christmas albums is Avalon's, "Joy." The sixth cut on that record is titled "Light A Candle." I must admit that the first time I heard it, I loved the sound, but was puzzled by the lyrics :

Light a candle,
For the old man who sits staring,
Out a frosty windowpane.
Light a candle,
For the woman who is lonely,
And every Christmas it's the same.
For the children who need more
Than presents can bring,

Light a candle, Light the dark,
Light the world, Light a heart or two.
Light a candle for me, I'll light a candle for you.

Light a candle,
For the homeless and the hungry,
A little shelter from the cold.
Light a candle,
For the broken and forgotten,
May the season warm their souls.
Can we open our hearts to shine through the dark?
And in this special time of year,
May peace on earth surround us here,
And teach us there's a better way to live.
Oh with every flame that burns, we must somehow learn
That love's the greatest gift we ever give.

I was puzzled enough to begin wondering about the significance of candle lighting during the holiday season. I learned that candle lighting has been a religious practice for centuries. Both Jews and Christians use candles in their worship as a symbol of enlightenment and as a symbol of Messiah, the Light of the world. In fact, St. Jerome told Vigilantius that candles weren't merely used to dispel darkness, but to express Christian joy. The advent candles that some Christians light in the weeks preceding Christmas proclaim the coming of that Light as a baby in a drafty back-alley stable.

By dispelling darkness, candles proclaim hope. Maybe that is why Avalon uses this candle metaphor. If we could distill the message of Christmas to one word, that word would be hope. When Michael, Cherrie, Jody and Janna sing of lighting a candle for those who are weary - for those for whom there is little hope - they are expressing a profound truth: real hope, a hope that goes beyond "dolls that can talk and will go for a walk", is found in Jesus Christ.

When you make out your Christmas list this season, don't forget that the greatest gift you can give your loved one, or your co-worker, or anyone else, is the greatest gift that you have received - the gift of Jesus Christ.


Anonymous said...

Great post Frank, you made me recall this wonderful passage: "The people who walk in darkness will see a bright light. The light will shine on those who live in the land of death's shadow. (3) You will expand the nation and increase its happiness. It will be happy in your presence like those who celebrate the harvest or rejoice when dividing loot. (4) You will break the yoke that burdens them, the bar that is across their shoulders, and the stick used by their oppressor...(6) A child will be born for us. A son will be given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. He will be named: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:2-6 GW)

Frank Weller said...

Thanks, Mike. I preached a series a few years back titled: A Season of Light. Christmas is so hope-filled and light is indicative of that hope.