Candles in the Dark


Sunday was the Feast of the Presentation, when Christians recall the day Joseph and Mary presented the baby Jesus at the temple, offering Him back to God the Father. It is a mystery, like so many others, in which Christ in a sense returns home.

We do not belong to ourselves. Though so many choices are afforded to us to shape our own lives, our lives ultimately belong to our Creator. Our children are gifts for us to steward on His behalf. All of our many gifts are for giving again, including the gift of life itself.

Sunday also was Candlemas, a celebration adopted from the Eastern tradition involving blessing of candles.

Prayer candles are a beautiful, peaceful tradition shared by various faiths from time immemorial. Even in the non-deistic faiths of China and Japan, candles represent the communication of the earthly to the heavenly, passing from visible light and smoke into invisible scents and hopes.

In Christianity, candles also represent a great consolation: that light and darkness, good and evil, are not equal forces in an endless war. Rather, God as the Light of the world is entirely beyond resistance. Darkness is merely absence of light, wholly or in part. It is always and effortlessly undone by light’s presence.

Like the candles we hold, Christians are called to carry the Light of Heaven wherever we go, to be beacons of God’s great promise that all darkness will pass away in the fullness of His presence. “The Lord is my light and my salvation. / Whom shall I fear?”

For now, the lights may flicker. But even shining dimly, we are never without effect. Wherever a soul carries the peace of God, there His victory is already with us and life blooms, rearing color from the dark soil.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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  1. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller

    Another thought, while listening to the lecture below:

    Sometimes a light is useful by itself, like a flashlight. Sometimes a light is one of a team, only together illuminating their space.

    Sometimes a light is noticed. Sometimes it isn’t. It might obviously be in the right place at the right time, and for that assistance is thanked. Or its usefulness might be taken for granted, nevertheless transforming an experience for someone.

    Light is a common theme in my song lyrics, as in poetry and prose throughout history. But now I am reminded rather of another lyric, though similar, which invites gifts of all sizes: “Keep it just a simple thing / if that is what you bring / The smallest drop is part of the sea.”

    No individual drop of an ocean is visible, even if you look for one. Yet the ocean depends on those little drops, like each sparkle of sunlight illuminates our world just a little bit.

    Don’t measure your gifts. God alone knows how they mix and match with others to form a greater service. Every smile, every kind word, every moment of attention to show that another person matters, every bit of dust you brush away, every fallen leaf you pick from a living plant — so many tiny actions matter. Do what is good without worry for its fleeting mark.

    Rest is okay too. “See a need; fill a need.” Your gifts, your light, will often surprise even yourself. If a need is not momentarily visible, just remain ready to welcome one. God is sneaky sometimes.

    • #1
  2. Snirtler Inactive

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    God is sneaky sometimes.

    Good line. Could be a whole post.


    • #2
  3. SkipSul Inactive

    Some thoughts on Candlemass from the East, from last year.


    • #3
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