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Christmas Eve

Lighting the Candle

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light for the fruit of the light
consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.
Ephesians 5:8-9

“We’ll leave the light on for ya” was a line ad-libbed by Tom Bodett, be-coming the tagline of one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history. The ad has succeeded in creating an image of warm hospitality, rest, and refreshment for a weary traveler. Often when I hear the ad’s promise to leave a light on, I remember the first Christmas I drove straight from seminary for a thousand miles and found my parents had lined our driveway with luminaries. I also remember the home in our neighborhood where they left all their Christmas lights burning into June to welcome home their son from Viet Nam.

The promise to leave a light on comes to me as I read today’s Scripture text calling us to be light to others. Darkness fills the lives of many. With the light of Christ within, we are to shine God’s light “in all goodness, righteousness, and truth”. The love, forgiveness, and encouragement we receive daily from Christ must be passed on to others.

One of the highlights of my year is the Christmas Eve candle lighting service. It’s a simple service that speaks so powerfully about the light that Christ gives us, and the light we give to others. The candle lighting begins with the sanctuary shroud in darkness, except for the tall Christ Candle glowing at the altar. Then the pastor, or little child, lights his candle from the Christ Candle and passes the light to another. On down the pews the Christ light is passed until the sanctuary glows with light.

When our Lord Jesus walked this earth He told His followers: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). As long as Jesus was physically present in the world He was the flesh and blood embodiment of God’s light. Now having come to Christ’s light, let us live as “children of the light”.

The Christmas eve candle lighting, along with today’s Scripture text, reminds us that we can make a difference in our world. Today we can choose to light a candle rather than curse the darkness. Where there is darkness in our relationships, community, and church, we can shine the light of Christ. All the love, forgiveness, and hope that He daily gives to us, we can pass on to others. We can leave the light on for all on their journey.

Today lighting the candle can symbolize our prayer that Christ’s light shine through us to others. May our lives dispel the darkness and light the way Home.

So let’s raise our candles and light up the sky
Praying to our Father in the name of Jesus
Make us a beacon in the darkest times
So carry your candle and run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, deceived and poor
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle and go light the world.
– Chris Rice




Our loving God. We thank you for those who have been light in our darkness, shining on us your love, forgiveness and grace. If there is darkness in us today, shine your light we pray. Drive away the dark clouds of guilt, fear, and despair. Fill us with your light and make the Christ-light shine through us. Amen.

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