LIGHTING THE CANDLE
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9
Do you love Christmas Eve like I do? Nowadays I look forward to this day even more than when I was a child. This is a day so filled with joy and meaning. Tonight’s candle lighting service will be one of the highlights of the year for me. The simple service expresses so powerfully God’s love for the world and Jesus as God’s one true light.
I like how the service begins in darkness, the lone Christ Candle burning by the altar. After appointed scriptures, prayers, and songs, the candle lighting begins when the officiant lights a candle from the flame of the Christ Candle. Then the officiant passes that light on to the first person, who passes it on to another, then to another and another, until the sanctuary is aglow with light. How wonderful it is to hold one’s candle and sing, “Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, love’s pure light…”
The candle lighting service embodies today’s scripture in which God has called us out of darkness to live and to serve others with the light of Jesus. As God so loved the world that He sent us His Son, so God empowers and sends us into the world with the light of Jesus. Note the dignity and privilege bestowed on every believer to be part of “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people”! These splendid titles once belonging to Old Testament Israel, now belong in a fuller sense to Christians today.
As God chose to bless Abraham and to make him a blessing, so we are God’s “chosen people” to bless others. God is gathering people from all nations, peoples, and tongues to be His “royal priesthood” and to bring people to Jesus. As God’s priests we possess Christ’s “royal” character, destined to forever reign with Him. We are “called out of darkness into his marvelous light” in order to proclaim God’s “marvelous acts” to the world. As “God’s own people” set apart from the world for the world, we get to shine the light of Christ on to others. God has blessed us to be a blessing. With our lips and our lives we tell others: “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Many people read our lives more than they read the Bible. They form ideas about who God is, most of all, from us, who are “God’s own people.” We live in a uniquely strange moment of uncertainty; a time of peril for the changing culture. This is our time of opportunity to shine in the darkness, and to tell others about the Light of the world, Jesus!
PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP
Loving Father, we stand in awe of you for having rescued us from darkness, honoring us as your own people. We praise you for granting us the dignity of being royal priests so that we might bring others to you. Shine on us the beauty of Jesus so that the world might see and love Him. Amen.