One of the few Christmas decorations that Steven and I put up this year was a strand of white icicle lights, framing the large window in our apartment. Even in the middle of the day, they bring a warm glow to the room and provide some winter cheer to the stark landscape outside our window. At night, the lights shine bright into our (not so dark) neighborhood; from our window, we can see a “Joseph-Technicolor-dream-coat” glow from one of the area’s tacky Christmas light houses. From the Grand Illumination of Richmond to a single strand of lights framing a window to the tackiest of all the tacky-light-tour homes in Richmond, these lights remind us that this is no ordinary time of year.
Each Sunday in Advent we light another candle on the wreath, slowly marking the passing of the season. Traditionally representing hope, love, joy, and peace, these four candles help us reflect on and give thanks for the meaning of Christ in our lives and our world. At the start of the church’s new year, we both look backward and forwards, reflecting on how God’s hope, love, joy, and peace shines forth in this world in Christ and how much the world continues to yearn for the kingdom of God to be fully realized. In the center of the Advent wreath, the Christ candle remains unlit until our Christmas Eve service. At the end of our Christmas Eve service, the light from the Christ candle is passed from candle to candle, until each person’s candle is lit. The light of Christ is shared with many, but the Christ light is not diminished in its sharing. Indeed, the light of God’s hope, love, joy, and peace in Christ grows in its sharing.
In the midst of the darkest time of year, as the sun rises later and sets earlier each day, light is a comforting and welcome sight. Yet, a single candle in the middle of an Advent wreath shines brighter than the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Bringing a message of hope, love, joy, and peace, the Christ candle reminds us that the light of Christ has come into the world and continues to shine into the world. In the midst of our every-day and seasonal stress, the light of Christ comes into our lives in a transformative way that no Christmas light strand ever could. For, in seeing the light of Christ, we are comforted by the meaning of this light and are challenged to carry this transformative light with us throughout our days. In the midst of the lights of this season, may Christ’s light shine all the brighter into and through your lives. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
In the hope, love, joy, and peace of Christ that shines into this world each and every day,
Miriam is one of the wonderful Union Presbyterian Seminary students whose worship and work with us enriches our congregation! Miriam is serving as one of our interns this year and will be graduating from UPSem in May 2014.