Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Light of the World: Advent --Christmas 2015

The Advent season has been a spent in preparing our hearts and minds, which enriches our time of celebrating Christ’s birth. For the past four Sundays we have explored the meaning of four of the candles in the Advent wreath:  The Prophecy Candle (a.k.a., the Candle of Hope); The Bethlehem Candle (a.k.a., the Candle of Preparation); The Shepherds' Candle (a.k.a., the Candle of Joy); and "The Angel Candle", (a.k.a., “The Candle of Love").

Today we celebrate the Birth of Christ! We have now arrived at the lighting of the final candle in the Advent wreath, the white “Christ Candle,” which represents Jesus. Depending on when churches hold their Christmas service, this candle is lit on either Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. Joy to the world, the Lord is come, and we are thrilled to celebrate His birth with reverence and with elation! On this holy day we commemorate and celebrate Jesus’ first coming to earth;  and the white candle reminds us that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” (John 8:12 Common English Bible).

While Advent encompasses the first coming of the Light of the World, it also includes His second coming. Thus, it’s also a time of celebrating the hope that we have of Jesus’ promised return.  Therefore, our wait is NOT over. We could argue that Jesus’ nativity, as a vulnerable infant, was ‘restrained’. However, the package deal (i.e., of angels, angel choirs, a huge, bright, shiny star, shepherds and magi from the East) was anything but subtle.

His second coming will be even more prominent.  Scripture asserts, “We can tell you with complete confidence…that when the Master comes again to get us… The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words,” (1 Thessalonians 4: 15-18, The Message). What a thrilling experience that will be!
Last year my husband and I attended a Carols and Candles at Southern Wesleyan University. When we entered the chapel, we received a candle. At the conclusion of the program, a candlelight service was held. In the vast auditorium, with all the house lights shut off, celebrants received light for their candles from the university chaplain’s candle. Then these individuals moved down into the aisles of the sanctuary, and began to share the light with the person at the end of each row. The people in the rows passed their candlelight to each other. The light was also shared with all the concert participants. It was a very moving moment when, with all the candles lit, the chaplain held his candle high, and we all followed his lead. One little lit candle in that dark room might not have seemed significant, but the impact of many little lights was moving. The candle-lighting was a reminder that we are called to reflect the Light of the World in our daily lives (Matthew 5:13-15).  

There is a song, written by Chris Rice, called, “Go Light Your World”. The song speaks about the loneliness, confusion, helplessness, frustration, and weariness that many individuals experience.  It also has the repeating admonition, “Carry your candle, and run to the darkness… And hold out your candle for all to see it. Take your candle, and go light your world,” (RICE, CHRISTOPHER M., Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group). Like the song advocates, we carry the Light with us; and, as we hold out our candle to others, we offer the Light of the World, the epitome of love, hope, and healing.

May you have a blessed and holy Christmas celebration.

Dear Lord,

Our lives have been transformed by You, the Light of the World. Let Your Light in us shine so brightly that others want to know You and to become part of Your family.  Give us the courage and the passion to boldly share Your Light with those who are hungry for hope, light, and faith so that their lives may also be changed.  
In Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Suggested Scripture Readings:
Thursday, December 24th  The People Walking in Darkness  Isaiah 9:2;
Matthew 4:16

Thursday, December 25th: The Birth of Jesus  Luke 2: 1-20
  
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer

Canada

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