In the Christmas Eve candlelight service we all light our individual candles to symbolize the light of Christ coming into the world.
In this ritual, there’s another symbol for these candles I’d like us to consider: These candles represent each one of us. The light of Christ shines in our very own lives.
I took a photo of one of the advent wreaths we constructed in our home this past month; you can see it below. To begin with we had four, good-sized pillar candles we set in a bed of stones. But the glass holder had a relatively small diameter. The only way they would all fit in the container was to place the four candles right beside each other so they were touching.
As the four candles burned down, pretty soon we realized our mistake. They were too close to each other. The flames from the candles conspired to melt the wax in an accelerated, agitated fashion. The melted wax pooled quickly and often snuffed out the drowning wicks. We managed the candles as best as we could. But by the end all that was left was one amorphous blob of wax at the bottom of the bowl.
The candles burn much better when there is more space between each of them.
One of my favourite rituals of Christmas is shining all manner of lights. There are various and different kinds of lights—LED, flashing electrical lights for outdoor use, fairy white lights on boughs of spruce and pine, candlelight, and the list goes on. Yet all of them still do one thing: they provide light. It’s all about the light. These candles we light tonight belong to the one light of God. All light comes from God.
At a deeper level, we are all united, and share, in the light of Christ. All of it belongs to the One. At a deeper level, God overcomes whatever separates and divides us. In our common humanity, like all the wax pooling together at the bottom of the bowl, therein we find the one light in us all.
At Christmas, we often discover and experience our failings, weaknesses, and limitations in our relations. Amidst the intensity of those relationships, may we be reminded again of the good news of Christmas: That our individual lives–where necessary space is important–we still belong to a larger, brighter and ever-burning light. This is the life and love of God coming into the world at Christmas, and whose life and love is for the whole world.