The Rev. Alex Meek, Dean of Edmonton and Rector of All Saints Anglican Cathedral, writes about the liturgy around candles and light in her blog on March 20.
As Anglicans, we light candles. They are an important symbol to us. We notice how many are where, we notice when they are lit or not lit, or when they go out part way through a service. We use them in prayer, both corporately and privately. In their simplicity, they are a meaningful element of our worship.
In the Godly Play children’s curriculum there is a very beautiful liturgy around candles, and light. The teacher begins by lighting a candle and says “once there was someone who came into the world who did marvelous things, and when the people didn’t know who he was they asked and he told them that he was the light”. The teacher continues by saying “those who love the light become a part of the light”, and they light a candle for every child. Soon, the light of the candles is beautiful and bright and strong. The teacher says, “Look how the light is growing. And how it is in so many places” and then they say, many have come to the light, to receive their light, but the light never grows smaller. It only continues to grow”. This is a fantastic lesson, but reader let me tell you, as a parent of children who connect the dots very well, I had fear in my heart the first time I heard this lessons because I thought “Oh no. What happens when all of the candles are blown out. This will not end well”.
As it turns out, I had nothing to fear. This too, was included in the liturgy. When it was time for the lesson to end the teacher turned to the children and said “There comes a time when the Light is changed so it’s not just in one place anymore. It can be in many places at once. Watch.” and she blew out the candles and smoke filled the air. The smoke wasn’t bright like the candles but it went everywhere. And the children got it. Through this very simple lesson they could understand the grace of being gathered together in the light of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit that goes in and out and through everything.
There are days when we are together, and it is good and it is what we need. But there are also days when we are apart. In this season of being apart, may we continue to live as children of the Light, In the strength of Jesus, the light of all of the world. But may we also remember the smoke that rises at the end of each service. And our dismissal. Go in peace, to love and to serve the Lord. Thanks be to God. As we are dispersed, may we know the Holy Spirit goes with us, in and through and around us. Sending us into our world with love and in service of all whom we meet.
This Sunday evening, Bishop Jane has encouraged us to join others across the Anglican Communion and place a candle in our front windows at 8pm as we pray together. For our communities, for those who are sick and those who are afraid, for our health care providers, for each other. Let us light candles together this Sunday night and know that we are together in prayer across this city and across the world. And when we blow them out at the end of our time in prayer, may we be encouraged for another day to love and serve the Lord.
You can find more of Rev. Meek's writing at http://thoughtsforsaints.wordpress.com.