A Candle Burns Brightly

A woman recently addressed her church, tears streaming down her face, as she spoke openly about regret and forgiveness in light her addictions. She shared that 12 years prior she had aborted the pregnancy of her twins. People were then invited forward to light a candle in remembrance of any child lost through abortion, illness, or miscarriage.

Over two hundred candles burned with silent, poignant ferocity.*

This story is both tragic and beautiful. Share it with your friends–what makes it so powerful? Why don’t we do this more often? What aspects of this story do you wish to see in your own lives?

This past weekend marked the beginning of Advent. Advent is a season in which many Jesus followers anticipate and actively prepare to celebrate the memory of His birth. One way among many is to light a candle each week, with each candle representing a key theme of Christmas.

Hope is the first candle on the Avent wreath. Hope is at the heart of the Christmas story. But true hope is more than anticipating the good times ahead. We must saturate the full extent of the human experience with hope–pathos and all. In contrast, I wonder how many of us breezed through Thanksgiving, enthusiastically thanking God for friends, family, jobs, and homes. This may be a start, but a heart willing to stretch only for the low-hanging fruit will likely produce worship that only skips over the surface of the deep.

The image of 200 flickering candles reminds us that the Hope of Christmas is born from pain, regret, and failure, rather than serving as a panacea of all that aches. Hope is a candle that burns brightest through the darkness of our failures, our pain, and our regrets. And yet these are precisely what we try the hardest to silence during this season of sparkling lights, cheerful music, and pretty scarves.

Jesus didn’t move into the neighborhood to attend our Christmas parties. He came to heal us where we are sick, to free us where we are captive, and give us good news where we’ve only heard bad.

The question is, will you let Him?

*(As witnessed by Theresa Latini).

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About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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