Keeping the candles inside the cathedrals?

missionary training's prayer candles

Light and the Word –      gifts from God

With the power outages on the East Coast, a lot of people have been using candlelight for everything from walking around their house to doing late-night Sudoku.  Candles are such a symbol of faith.  They cannot light themselves – they must receive light from someone else.  Once lit they can be generous with their light – sharing flame without losing anything, casting light over a whole room, giving warmth and a unique glow that is both calming and energizing.  Flames burn and wicker and dance, and are so mysterious.   Jesus Christ is the Light of the World – and he said to the crowds,”You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14-16)

But candles are also frail.  Have you ever tried to carry a candle outside?  Wind can whip it out at any moment.  Even walking with a candle can be a challenge – that little bit of movement takes all our focus and gracefulness.

Most people have had the occasion to see candles at Church.  They are a sign of -1- God’s presence, of -2- the holiness of a place, of -3- the Spirit working in mysterious ways.  Yet aren’t each of these three alive and life-giving in every place and time?  I am reminded of the lyrics of the song “April Showers”:

(Oh) Like April Showers on the slick cement

When I consider how our light is spent

Keeping the candles inside the cathedrals

Hold on tight, Don’t go into the night So full of evil

So often as Christians we focus our energy of worship, fellowship, and giving within the walls of cathedrals, in part because the beauty of Church buildings is inspiring, but also because outside of the cathedrals our candles are open to all kinds of winds and chaos.  Candles won’t stay lit; our spirits are frail; we cannot prove our beliefs; we may feel alone when away from the gathered saints, so our witness is silenced.  Yet it is the world outside of the cathedral that needs the warmth of faithful friendships.  This world needs the beauty and mystery of God in a world where to value something we first have to measure it.  This world needs to see candles get blown out and miraculously re-lit by the Light of the World, over and over again.  It is the darkest places that need light the most.  And, you may not know how much your light matters to people around you.  “Remember to be kind to everyone, for each one is fighting a battle that you cannot see.”  Carry your candle, O lights of the world – feel God’s presence in the carpool and the holiness of your kitchen and the Spirit sending you to a world in need.

Enjoy the song “April Showers” by the Christian band Caedmon’s Call:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HagtNrzW5NY

Find the lyrics here:  http://www.metrolyrics.com/april-showers-lyrics-caedmons-call.html

PS – and the song goes on:  “Rain rain don’t go away, we need you this dry and dusty day…  Rain rain don’t go away, though some may say please go away.”  You may remember the child’s song “rain rain go away, come again some other day.”  The song April Showers plays on that, saying that the rain is like the waters of baptism, the flood of God’s presence washing through our lives.  Rain is powerful stuff – as these storms have proved.  We might want the rain to go away so that we will feel safe, so that our lives won’t be risked and changed.  But if we’re talking about the rain as God’s presence, then we do need God to come into our dry and dusty souls, refresh us, give us life abundant – even as we try to deny that we need God in order to live.  Ah – what a song, and what images of our need and God’s love!

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