Photo Courtesy of Emmanuel Church, Boston

Have you ever been in complete darkness; that pitch black, unable to see your hand in front of your face kind of darkness?  It’s a weird sensation; probably similar to blindness.  I’m not afraid of the dark, but I must admit I don’t like the sensation of being blind.  Before the advent of tiny flashlights, I used to carry an old Zippo lighter that came in very handy if I found myself in a dark place.  There was just something beautiful about the little flame that chased the darkness away and restored my vision.  Nowadays, there’s a smart-phone app for that.

It’s amazing how much darkness a small, solitary flame can displace.  I guess that’s why they called it “candlepower” in the late 1800’s (candela since the late 1940’s; one candela is the luminous intensity emitted by one common candle).  A candle doesn’t produce a glaring, bright light; just a flickering, but persistent, warm glow.  I purchased interior paint for our home and had it tinted in a color called “candlelight” because the color was so “warm” compared to the standard bright white hues.  Candlelight is like “comfort food” for the eyes.  Candles create a sacred and comforting atmosphere.  A single candle burning nearby on a cold night also provides a surprising amount of heat.

I think that’s why I love the Advent Season more than other holidays; because of all the candles used at Christmastime.  There’s more to candles than just physical beauty.  Candles are symbols of faith, hope and perseverance.  Their light commands the darkness to flee from every dark corner.  At this time of year, when there’s more night time than daylight, any extra light restores my spirit.  Imagine the first Christmas.  Israel was experiencing a very long night: 400 years of silence since the last prophecies illuminated the coming of the promised Messiah.  Suddenly, a new, unusually bright star appeared for the first time.  That heavenly light pointed the way for royal travelers to find the infant king their seers had told them about.  This baby was the candle that pierced the darkness and grew up to become the light of salvation for all mankind as is written in Matthew 4:16 “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

There’s a story about a father who gives each of his three sons an equal amount of money and instructs them to find a way to fill the family barn completely.  The son who can fill the barn will inherit the homestead.  The eldest brother buys straw, but his money only buys enough straw to reach the rafters.  The middle brother uses his money to buy sacks of feed, but he can only buy enough to reach the tops of the stalls.  The youngest brother buys a candle and, after cleaning out the barn, places that candle in the middle of the feed trough and lights it.  The light from the candle fills the entire barn and pours out of the windows, illuminating the night.  If you’re stumbling in the dark or feeling empty, reach out for the light spoken of in Matthew 4:16.  Let Jesus be the light for your path; the light that fills and saves your soul and the light that chases the darkness away.

© 2014 Curt Savage Media                                                                                

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