Sunday, 10 December 2017

Pause In Advent #2 - Let The Light Shine

My good friend Chris Duffett writes a great blog called "Be The Light". It is full of bright ideas and helpful tips, for people who want to share their faith in a gentle, unthreatening, but meaningful way.
Light is so important at this time of the year, here in the Northern Hemisphere. 

I know some of you in the Antipodes are preparing for your Christmas beach BBQ - but here in Britain, some of us - like Steph, and Mags, have snowy weather to contend with, and it gets dark so early in the evenings.
At 6pm on Friday, I was at my second Carol Service of the season, and it was an open air event. At 6pm, we gathered round a trailer in a car park at the end of the main street in the next town - there were hundreds of adults and children singing, and I don't imagine many of them were regular churchgoers. But the familiar words were sung, and the brass band played, and the school children read the Nativity Story from the Bible, and the Vicar said some jolly good stuff about Jesus the Light of The World, and we wished one another a Merry Christmas. [but it was cold, so Bob and I left before the Red Barrows Charity Wheelbarrow Race, back up the street]
The event began with a "Procession of Light" - from the Church at one end of the street down to the Car Park at the other [traffic is re-routed for 4 hours for this annual community event] Bob had his fancy torch, others had Star Wars, light sabres, and the two churchwardens carried amazing candle-lanterns which are over 100 years old and belong to the Church. My picture did not come out- but here is one from 2015. You can see the candle inside the glass lantern atop the pole.
I love candles, and I am conscious that I blog about them frequently. But I have learned a new thing about them in this past week which has challenged me.
If I buy candles, they tend to be cheap, unscented pillar candles, or tealights [usually from IKEA or Wilko] Mainly because I have often found the perfumed ones to be a disappointment. I've just found out why - it is all to do with the "throw".
When you sniff an unlit candle - in the shop, or maybe as you open the jar/unwrap the cellophane/etc you can smell the perfume. This is called the cold throw. When you light the candle, and smell its perfume, that is the hot throw. It seems that cheaper candles are often produced with a strong cold throw, so in the shop you think wow, this is good for just a quid! but when you light them, the hot throw is much weaker and often disappears altogether.Many are made with only a layer of scented wax on the top, and after a few hours burning, that's all gone. What seemed initially attractive proves to be temporary, superficial and disappointing. A really good scented candle will have a strong hot throw, throughout its life, and will perfume the whole room, every time it is lit. That is why you have to pay so much more for one.
2 Corinthians 2:15 says "Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance" If we are to be the light, let's make sure that when people encounter us, they're not only drawn to the initial signs of love and concern we display- but that we do not prove to be superficial, showing care for just a brief time, and turning out to be a disappointment in the end.
Jesus bids us shine 
with a pure clear light, 
like a little candle, 
burning in the night.
In this world is darkness, 
so we must shine
You in your small corner,
And I in mine


  1. It's interesting how light plays such a significant role in so many religions. I'd say you are a candle that will burn true without disappointing anyone.

  2. This is fascinating and a great challenge to live up to Ang, thanks!

  3. I thought you might be interested in this idea, although you might already be aware of the tradition. Every Advent, each of the 90 odd parishes within the RC Diocese of East Anglia undertake a Posada Journey. Each parish has an identical statue depicting Joseph and Mary on a donkey. Within each parish, starting on the first day of Advent, the Posada statue is passed each day to a new household until it arrives back at the parish Church on Christmas Day. What this means is that each day two households in every parish stop to pause, pray together and maybe share a meal. Something, to be honest, most wouldn't ordinarily do together. If all the parishes do this and if a different household signs up to keep the Posada statue overnight, then that's around 2500 households sharing a pause for Advent. The idea I think originated in Mexico. I gather posada means hostel or inn in American Spanish, that is, a place to pause on a journey.

  4. Wow! I never thought of that in relation to candles and what a neat analogy for our life. Thank you, Angela!

  5. Thanks for all these comments. I'm especially interested in Philip's information about the Posada. I'd heard of it, but didn't know the details. What a great act of fellowship and witness!

  6. It does take an extra effort to go out on a Sunday night at the moment. We were wavering a bit to be honest - yet when you get there - the light, the people, the things you hear make such a positive difference

  7. We do lots of talking at this time of the year about why the church chose Saturnalia as the festival for the nativity. There is something so visceral about lights piercing the winter darkness, symbolic of heat as well as hope, I suppose- for yes, it has been very wintry here this week!


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