The third Sunday of Advent. My, how time is passing. Here, in NH, we are waking up to a winter Wonderland this morning. As I look out the window, there must be at least 10-12" of snow (with a light coating still falling). There are many pictures of peace that I have been privileged to see over my 50 years, but I truly don't think much rivals the peace that comes watching the beauty of new-fallen snow. Maybe it is the gentleness and grace of how it comes down (most of the times), maybe it is the pure white hue, maybe it is the picture of it not yet trodden on - a beautiful blanket. I'm not sure, but there is a certain peace that pours into me when watching it. As the peace filled me this morning, it is the same peace that I feel with my third symbol of Advent this week, the Christmas Eve candle.
Our family last night was sharing some of our favorite Christmas memories. As we went around the table and shared special gifts that were chosen or received, times in our past when we woke up to splendor and wonder, or shared times with those who are now with our heavenly Father, it reminded me that nothing rivals each and every Christmas Eve Candle Light Service. As I type these words, the memories come running back of so many of these services.
I remember the church I grew up in, same candles as in the picture above. As a small child, I anxiously awaited my turn to light my candle and hold it up so proudly, singing "Silent Night". I would watch the flame and, even now as I remember, there was a sense of peace for a brief moment (for the anticipation of presents to come was certainly there). Yet, that sense of calm.
As I grew up and was on my own, there was my church home now (which has grown over the years and has seen many locations for our Christmas Eve services). Yet, each and every one had the candles shown above, the candles that seemed to bring that sense of peace. Over those years, those Christmas Eves have come with great highs and lows - the birth of children and bringing them to their first service, family from afar joining us for services, new families being joined at these services or illness plaguing the times, or relationships that were broken, or other struggles. Yes, there have been highs and lows as I would enter the church door. But, when the candles were lit, the struggles went away, and the busy activity of the "perfect Christmas" went to the wayside for the moment of peace the candle brought.
The peace, I know, truly comes from the Christ Child that was born on that Eve so many years ago. There is no doubt in my mind that when the light is lit and passed from person to person, when it reaches me, Jesus envelopes me with His true peace that can ONLY be provided by Him. No other person, no other vision (not even newly fallen snow), can provide the true peace that our Savior provides for us. The lit candle so boldly represents that peace.
As we sing "Silent Night" each Christmas Eve, the tears flow. They flow for many reasons; for those that cannot be with us but are singing so proudly in heaven, for those that are suffering, for the joy that I have in Jesus, the flow. And I don't stop them - for they are my reminder of the peace that fills me up as they pour out. Jesus never lets me down. As we extinguish our candles, I'm filled to the brim, with the peace that brings me everlasting joy, everlasting life. I pull from that moment many times throughout the year when I need it. Once I year, I am rejuvenated by it. Jesus lights our world, He brings us the promise of everlasting peace.
Whatever hardships we might be facing, whatever stressors have found their way into our lives, whatever joys we may have, we all need a time for perfect peace. I encourage you, if you don't already, to find a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service to attend this year. Find the peace that comes with lighting the candle. Find the peace that Jesus gives JUST TO YOU!! He is waiting to give His gift to you. May your Advent season continue to be blessed with all that our Savior brings to us. Christ the Lord is coming, He is coming soon - Alleluia~~
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (NIV) John 8:12