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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lighting Candles on Christmas Eve

Tonight we have our Christmas Eve service. Many families and individuals will gather to usher in Christmas. We will read the Christmas story found in the gospels. We will sing Christmas Carols. We will light candles and sing Silent Night.

I used to think that lighting candles was just to get the men to come. We men always like to burn things. We get bigger but we never really grow out of being little boys. Yet, it has come to mean something really special to me.

Everyone is given a candle when they enter the sanctuary. They will either lay it on the seat or hold it until the time comes to be lit. The candle remains dark until it is lit. It has all the potential of being a light and of providing heat but does not fulfill that purpose until it is lit. The lighting is passed from one person to another until the whole sanctuary is full of light.

Jesus came to the world as a baby. He "lit" a very few followers during His physical days on this earth. They spread His light to others until millions have His light burning burning within them. He came so that the whole world would have this light within. All people are potential lights until they are lit. This is the light that is still burning in the world.

This will not be the best Christmas for many people. Many people have lost loved ones during the year. The empty place at the table will serve as a reminder of their loss. Some have gotten divorced. Christmas is difficult for them because Christmas is so much about family and they have lost part of their family. Some have lost jobs so that Christmas will be a fearful time. They do not know how they will pay their bills. They will have a difficult time enjoying Christmas.

I want each of these to remember that the light of Jesus is still burning brightly no matter the circumstances. People have tried to put out this light for centuries but it keeps being spread from one person to another. This light will bring them through whatever they will face. Jesus will never give up on you. He will always be your light if you will let Him.

John 1:4-5 (ESV)
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

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