Our family is using the 25 Stockings book each night at the dinner table. As well as three versions of homemade ’25 Stockings’ hanging across the room, our 19 year old daughter bought an Advent candle this year. It’s one of those candles with incremental marks down it from 1 – 25. So each night when we are all together we light the candle as we eat our dinner. This requires very careful watching because although the candle starts off burning slowly, all of a sudden the wax drips down the side and the mark is reached for the day and it’s time to blow out the candle.
Once we’ve finished eating we read the bible passage. Because our children have always had this experience (I started writing the book when I was 19!) they love the three questions so we have to include that, and then we usually read the reflection and the prayer.
A couple of nights ago we also did the Discussion Time talking about darkness and times when we’ve been in the dark and turned on a light and how this makes a difference and of course how this relates to the metaphor of God’s love. We had a satisfying conversation about light and darkness and times we’ve each felt God’s presence. It was nice sitting there in front of a candle and talking about the impact of light that a single candle creates in a darkened room.
Last night I wasn’t feeling so good and although I went to bed early, I was up and down all night. At first the rest of the family were still all up so while my room was in darkness, the rest of the house was a blaze of light. By about midnight, 17’s door was shut and I figured he had turned in for the night. But sometime after 1, when I was up again and the rest of the house was this time in darkness too, I reasonably thought everyone else had now gone to bed. But… around 17’s closed door was a silhouette of light. (Not that, there was anything wrong with him still being up – he is on holiday)
I was pondering the idea that I had only seen the light around his door because the rest of the house was in darkness. It was kind of the opposite thinking of our earlier discussion talking about darkness and the difference that happens when a candle is lit. (Okay, I know it sounds like the same thing but bear with me.) The light had been on all the time, but I only saw that it was on when the rest of the house changed from light to dark.
So maybe sometimes the metaphor is that we can be like a light in the darkness for others just like a candle lighting up the darkness. And maybe other times we are part of a larger group of lights, indistinguishable as individuals until we are separated and stand as a solitary light in darkness.
I’ve really liked the metaphor as a follower of Jesus, of being a light in the darkness, or being salt adding flavour to the world. But I also think there is a balance and when we are being ‘light’ we carry on being true to our call to follow Jesus and be light to the world, by both gathering with a larger group of other ‘lights’ and also living, working and spending time on our own with others who are not followers of Jesus, and therefore hopefully bringing light to their darkness.
It’s a balance that is a struggle and maybe always changing. There is something wonderful and refreshing for followers to spend large amounts of time with other followers of Jesus. And maybe at different times in our lives we need this fellowship more than other times. But if we spend all of our time with our friends from our church groups, then how much is our light shining noticeably to others? And if we spend too much time with others who are not followers of Jesus, are we in danger of our light ‘battery’ running out or our candle burning until the flame is extinguished.
Anyway, that was my middle of the night musing… instead of sleeping! Just thought I’d share it.