Take this one for example. This has been my prayer candle for the past few months. I light it in the mornings when I get to church as I imagine God’s radiant light shining in places of need and hurt.
I remember the moment the light/wick from this candle disappeared into a pool of wax. That so often happens in times of pain; the light seems to disappear. One might say ‘Tis the season for disappearing light.
I mean this in several ways. First, the longest night of the year/shortest day happens this week for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. It will occur on December 21.
And then there is the fact that many people I know and many of the news stories in our world attest to the fact that pain, fear, uncertainty, violence, so often accompany us and can make us feel all snuffed out. Life can often leave us/people feeling burned, battered and bruised.
I’ve been tempted this week to rush out and buy more artificial light. Instead, I’ve decided to stick with the candles I have and let them burn until they can’t burn any longer. And as I watch the light fade during my own longest night vigil on December 21, I will contemplate these words from #551 in our blue Mennonite hymnal (stanzas 1, 2 and 5):
In the stillness of the evening inner restlessness befalls me which I cannot over power. In the midst of joy and gladness at the day’s abundant blessings, silent pain is ever near me.
My defeats loom large before me, and I know the day now passing has been crushed to many pieces. But as day draws to its closing I surrender all my unrest to the One who is beside me.
If new days to me are given, ever hour with grace abounding will give hope of new beginnings. Peace of mind protects my slumber. Courage is restored for living. I can meet the new tomorrow.
Finally, an invitation/announcement:
Come bask in and spread some light! For those in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest night of the year/winter solstice occurs this coming Sunday December 21. Many churches will host a Longest Night or Blue Christmas service of lament and longing. Here at Rainbow we will not have a formal service. Rather, we will have the sanctuary open from 5-7 pm on the 21st. Come and leave anytime during that block of time. Come to pray, light candles or sit in silence as we hold our personal pains and the pain of others in the presence of God.