The Power of a Single Flame

The holidays are over and for many of us the lights have come down to be packed and stored. I love Christmas lights and I think it’s a little sad when we take them down and hide them away until next Christmas.

Nowadays Christmas lights come in all sorts of colors, shapes and formats. We can hang them from the eaves or shine them from the yard like a strobe light against our homes. Clearly, there is something within the human soul that resonates with lights.

My favorite lights though, are the flickering flames of the candles on Christmas Eve as the service comes to an end, but the light goes forth. A small glow from the front of the church as the congregation sings Silent Night, passed back and spread, growing until the entire church shimmers with what can only be described as “love's pure light.”

The symbolism of this moment warms my heart with hope, and so it should. As friends and strangers alike pass a small bit of light to the next person and the next. There is something deeply satisfying, a sort of connection made deep within the soul, in turning with my lit candle to pass the light to the person behind me.

Beautifully sweet is the knowledge that my light isn’t diminished at all when I use it to light the candle of another.

And then we sing out the refrain “Son of God, love’s pure light.”

Isn’t this what love’s pure light is meant to be?

The love that Jesus Christ gives us becomes a fire within, and we pass that flame to others in a thousand different way without extinguishing or diminishing our own. A kind word here, a smile there. An overlooked offense or an act of service. Like the candlelight passed in that joyous and sacred moment on Christmas Eve, the light overcomes the darkness as it is shared from one to another.

I wonder what this must look like from the vantage point of the angels in heaven. A flicker of compassion, a spark of kindness, passed from one to another in a dark world, slowly illuminating humanity in its warm glow of love’s pure light.

This Christmas Eve I had the added blessing of having God bring to my mind all the people that have shared their light with me in the past year. People I have met through my writing groups and on trips. Those I may never meet again this side of eternity, but whose fingerprints are forever imprinted on my heart. A simple smile of friendship, an act of kindness or encouragement, a small bit of the flame of love they carried fueling, restoring, and growing the fire within me.

I burn brighter thanks to each of them.

Sadly, we too often snuff out the flames kindled in our heart as quickly as we snuff out our candles on Christmas Eve, depositing them back into the crate until next year. How quickly we forget the power of one small light to overcome the darkness through the act of being shared.

It is easy to believe that our one small flame can do nothing against the vast darkness all around us, but the strength of our light lies in the sharing of our flame.

Let’s not extinguish the flames passed to us through the joy of the Christmas season. Let’s use that moment to remind us of the power we possess through the sharing of God’s love, a love so strong that Jesus Christ gave up His deity to come to earth as a baby that first Christmas night and ultimately to take my place on the cross.

The Son of God, love’s pure light. Receive it, share it, believe it.

And may the angels need sunglasses by the time we’re through!

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).

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