So I Light My Candle

If you’re like me, you can’t remember a time when you weren’t aware of Christmas and all of its trappings – it’s so enmeshed into your baseline context you can’t even imagine its absence. This can be a comfort and problem, simultaneously. I grew up embracing my Christian faith, so the annual touchstones of Christmas and Easter have always served to reinforce both the central theological themes of my faith as well as my commitment to them. But unavoidably, to whatever degree something becomes familiar — it is equally susceptible of being taken for granted . . . so it’s all I can do to refrain from coasting on autopilot.

The rich traditions, the wonderful music, the magical visuals, even the predictable bemoaning of the commercialization – have grooved a well-worn rut in the yuletide trail that my wheels lock right into . . . leaving little room for any variation in my response. This is why I gave up observing “Christmas time” a long time ago in favor of celebrating Advent. Christmas is no doubt still the culminating event, but the discipline of Advent forces me into thinking afresh about how I am making room for Christ in my life – preparing anew to receive his presence.

Candle in snowRelationships require intentionality — Christmas is a ponderous expression of God’s intentionality in pursuing us in relationship . . . which makes for a very unique opportunity for us to become intentional about how we respond, relationally. So it’s not so much that I ignore the Christmas time fanfare, in fact I’ve learned to enjoy it anew, as a wonderful backdrop for my Advent meditation. And it is my meditation to be expectant that God will show up in a new way during this season . . . and expectant that I will be forever changed when he does.

My brother Garrison came to the Christian faith much later in life, which I believe gave him a fresh appreciation for the spiritual depths of Advent. As a very gifted singer/songwriter, his talent for personalizing his experience of faith is well demonstrated on his Christmas CD, “Songmaker’s Christmas”. I have selected a song from this project that I think best illustrates a thoughtful, meditative, and expectant response to the child who was born.

Pay particular attention to how the response evolves
with every mention of a candle . . .

For To Us A Child Will Be Born

O the nights have grown long in the deepening winter
The gray of the sky giving way to the dark
So I light a candle and wait by the window
For to us a child will be born

O the measure of winter is stately and somber
A drifting of snow at the foot of a tree
I wait at the end of my lane with a candle
For to us a child will be born

He will be called Wonderful Counselor
He will be called the Prince of Peace
Noel Noel Noel

O the longing of winter is poignant and wakeful
The silence that beds in mysterious hush
We bring our candles abiding together
For to us a child will be born

O the vigil of winter is still and untroubled
The slumbering world in linens of snow
We bear our candles in watchful procession
For to us a child will be born

He will be called Wonderful Counselor
He will be called the Prince of Peace
Noel Noel Noel

One thought on “So I Light My Candle

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