spacer
Ransom Fellowship
spacer articles movies music books art faith discernment spacer
 
articles
publications
search
people
links
faq
blank
about
contact
press kit
Ransom Blogs
spacer
spacer
current article  
spacer
spacer
spacer
Candles spacer Candles
BY: Scott Schuleit
spacer
Click. A button was pressed on a lighter and a small flame appeared in the dark sanctuary. It was like a seed of light, its flame bright with the energy it contained. The wand of the lighter was dipped towards a man with a handheld candle and, magically, it flourished. He then, in turn, passed his flame to another individual with a handheld candle. These participants then transferred their flames to others and so on until, in time, it made its way to my wife and I in the back, the room blossoming with petals of light. The room was enchanted with hands half-aglow beneath floating white candles topped with raindrops of fire. Light was flowing around the room, rippling, soft and luminous, stirring shadows, drawing forms out of darkness… soon faces were discerned, gently flickering, and glistening eyes revealed, touched with fine points of fire.

There’s something about the use of candles during a church service, whether during a Christmas candlelight service or some other occasion, there’s just something wondrous about them, especially when glowing in a darkened room. I’m convinced that one of the reasons God created fire involves its ability to enchant, its unique capacity to provoke wonder. There’s something inexplicable about fire. I mean, what is it? Scientists can give us some information, but there is, at least, some measure of mystery here.

Growing up, my identical twin brother and I were fascinated by fire, probably inordinately so. Once, on a sunny day when we were just boys, we started a dry field on fire. Immediately we were excited by our deed, intoxicated by the power and beauty of it, the honey-yellow flames, curling of smoke and crinkling of its burning bringing delight to our mischievous souls. These emotions proved fleeting however, giving way to fear as other spots in the field began to catch fire. Soon it was out of control, patches blooming, here and there, before us. Frantically, we tried to stamp them out and when we failed, ran away. For some reason we turned back and after battling the flames for some time managed to stamp them all out. If I recall correctly, this little incident was not communicated to Mom and Dad. I’m still fascinated by fire, and this memory along with the more recent one of the candles kindled during that special Christmas candlelight service remind me of this fact.

I’m sure some important symbols were used surrounding the candles in the service, but I’m afraid either my memory fails me regarding what pattern of symbolism was expressed and its meaning, or I just wasn’t paying enough attention to this aspect of the service. Having said that, I offer some symbols associated with the use of candles in the cool, yet warm dark of that room, including the obvious illustration of luminous Christians in a dark, fallen world. Another image involves candle flames as a portrait of the church, for when we come together, unified, we burn stronger and more brightly than when apart, the candle smoke like the incense of our worship rising as a sweet offering before the throne of our Lord. This last image reminds us that a candle isolated from the church, left alone in the world, can easily go out, snuffed by the buffeting of the smothering dark. The single flame of a candle also reminds us of the cross when Christ—the Light of the world—bore the immense burden of our sins on his back, alone, fighting against the fierce powers of darkness.

A candle flame in a dark room also tends to draw our gaze down to its tiny, radiating flame of light, its presence swallowing up a sense of the vastness of space as if all eternity, the great weight of it stood hushed, gazing, peering down like on that timeless day when the convergence of the temporal and the infinite, time and eternity, deity and physicality was revealed, and a beautiful Baby—the Savior of the world—was born.

Copy © 2014 Scott Schuleit


image

spacer
spacer
spacer
about the author
spacer
Scott Schuleit
Scott Schuleit received the M.A. in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary. His poems have appeared in the Mars Hill Review, The Penwood Review, Spring Hill Review, Christianity and Literature and Sehnsucht: The C.S. Lewis Journal. His non-fiction has been published in several print and non-print publications, including: Tabletalk, Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Monergism.com, The Gospel Coalition and Modern Reformation. Scott is the Youth Ministry Leader at Lake Worth Christian Reformed Church and enjoys walking, observing, reflecting, and spending time with his dear wife Christina.
spacer spacer spacer
other articles from this author
spacer
Train
Cigarette


Three Haiku

Candles

spacer
related articles
spacer Poetry

A poetic endnote on sleep

Serrano’s Piss Christ Reconsidered

Margie's 2015 Christmas Gift List

Salt and Sunflower Seeds
Sparrow


Crucifixion (1), (2) and (3)


Old Woman

Gas Station

3 Haiku

Candles

Three Haiku

Omne Quod Spirat Laudet Dominum

I Really Like Your Shoes

Train
Cigarette


Margie's 2013 Christmas Gift List

Enlarging Imagination: The Art of Ned Bustard

Taking the Long View in a Life of Hospitality

The Solace of Asparagus

The Innkeeper, Immanuel and Herod

What's happened to you?

spacer
spacer spacer spacer bottom
Ransom Fellowship
Ransom Fellowship
spacer This web site is old and creaky. The email function functions poorly when it functions at all. Worse, it all looks old. So we are starting work on building a new site, and hope to have it functioning by fall.

Our vision will not change, nor will our attempt in this little spot of the Internet to invite you to join us in thinking about the things that matter most. Thanks for visiting.

Denis & Margie Haack
Anita Gorder
spacer
spacer
bottom

Home | Articles | Publications | Search | People | Links | FAQ | Donate | About | Contact | Press

All material © 2000-2017 Ransom Fellowship Ministries
Site design by JaM Multimedia